Increasing access to smartphones and tablets has had an impact on how children interact with technology and the cybersecurity threats they are exposed to. While it may not be possible to entirely neutralise the impact of threats, parents should be aware of them. And take preventive measures to ensure the safety and security of their kids’ online activities.
Some of the key cybersecurity threat predictions for 2024 according to Kaspersky arise from the booming use of AI, growth of malicious actors’ attacks on young gamers, developments in FinTech, and the use of fake clone apps.
Use of AI
According to a UN research, about 80% percent of young people claimed that they interact with AI multiple times a day. With progress in AI, numerous little-known applications have emerged with seemingly harmless features, such as uploading a photo to receive a modified version. However, when children upload their images to such applications, they never know which databases their photos will ultimately reach, and whether they will be used further.
Moreover, AI apps, specifically, chatbots can easily provide age-inappropriate content when prompted.
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Malicious actors target young gamers
The advent and increasing use of unmoderated voice and text chats in games has opened up fresh avenues for cybercriminals.
Threat actors make use of in-game voice and text chats to lure young players with fake promises of gifts or friendships. Once they have the confidence of the young gamer, they look to obtain their personal information by sharing links to phishing sites which download malicious files onto the victims device. The malicious files are often disguised as a game mod for popular titles like Minecraft or Fortnite.
Threat from FinTech for kids
More and more banks now are providing specialized products and services tailored for children, including banking cards designed for kids as young as 12.
While these products may come in handy, they expose kids to financially motivated threat actors and make them vulnerable to conventional scams. Like promises of a free PlayStation 5 or other valuable products after entering card details on a phishing site.
Using social engineering techniques, cybercriminals might exploit children’s trust by posing as peers and requesting the sharing of card details or money transfers to their accounts.
Home threat cases targeting children will increase
Despite the multiplying cases of threats to smart home devices, manufacturers are not rushing to create cyber-immune tech that preemptively prevents potential exploits of vulnerabilities.
This also means that children can become tools for cybercriminals in an attack. For instance, if a smart device becomes a fully functional surveillance tool and a child is home alone, cybercriminals can contact them through the device and request for sensitive information such as their name, address and time, when their parents are not at home — or even on their parents’ credit card number.
Threat from fake clone apps
As legislators move to ban the use of online apps they deem a threat to security, users look for alternatives. Kids are especially susceptible to fake apps masquerading as mods for online games, or different versions of popular social media apps.
Between 2020 and 2022, researchers have found more than 190 apps on the Google Play store to have been infected with a trojan, which signed up users for paid services without their knowledge.
A conservative estimate of the number of downloads of these apps is 4.8 million, but the actual figure of victims may be even higher, making them a big threat for young users.
How to keep your kids online activities secure
Researchers suggest a proactive approach to ensuring that kids are secure from cybersecurity threats. Parents can take the following steps to secure their kids online security.
Staying informed about potential threats and actively monitoring their children’s online activities.
Parents should +have open communication with their children about the potential risks they may encounter online and to enforce strict guidelines to ensure their safety.
To secure your child from downloading any malicious files during their gaming experience, we advise to install a trusted security solution on their device.
Additionally, parents should also actively monitor their children’s financial and download activities on their devices to ensure they do not fall prey to phishing attacks or download malicious apps.