Cyber threats expected to grow and target children — Kaspersky

Cyber threats expected to grow and target children — Kaspersky

By Miguel Hanz L. Antivola, Reporter

Children will increasingly become targets for cyber threats given the growing landscape of digital features and threat actors, according to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.

This involves their ease of access to artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots, deceitful strangers via gaming platforms, and financial technology, among multiplying techniques of cybercriminals, it said in a statement on Thursday.

“It is crucial to teach children the basics of cybersecurity from an early age, how not to fall into the trap of cybercriminals, what cyberthreats can occur during gaming, and how to properly protect your personal data,” said Andrey Sidenko, a security and privacy expert at Kaspersky.

“All this is now a must-have knowledge not only for adults, but also for the youngest users,” he added.

The United Nations report titled “A Future with AI: Voices of Global Youth” showed about 80% of young people around the world interact with AI multiple times daily.

Kaspersky said this has started carrying risks in terms of their data privacy, given the growing amount of applications asking to receive their photos for a modified output

“When children upload their images to such applications, they never know which databases their photos will ultimately remain, and whether they will be used further,” it added.

Unmoderated platforms also extend to gaming, where anonymous voice and text chat become avenues for cybercriminals to obtain personal information from more vulnerable groups like children.

“Cybercriminals gain the trust of young players by luring them with gifts or promises of friendship,” Kaspersky said.

“Once they have the confidence of a young gamer, they then obtain their personal information by suggesting that they click on a phishing link, which downloads a malicious file onto their device disguised as a game mod for Minecraft or Fortnite, or even grooming them,” it added.

This information can include sensitive financial credentials, where banks have already expanded to cater kids as young as 12 due to fintech.

“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,” Kaspersky noted.

Sophisticated threats have begun to reach the smart home space, with vulnerabilities and surveillance being leveraged to manipulate children to disclose information, especially when found alone.

“Despite the increasing number of cases of threats to smart home devices, manufacturers are not rushing to create cyber-immune tech that preemptively prevents potential exploits of vulnerabilities,” Kaspersky said.

“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 sensitive information such as their name, address and time, when their parents are not at home — or even their parents’ credit card number,” it added as an example.

“In such a scenario, beyond just device hacking, there is also a risk of financial data loss or even a physical attack.”

Other challenges include children’s demand for personal online space, which necessitates “establishing clear boundaries and expectations and discussing the reasons for using the app with any child,” Kaspersky said.

“By staying informed about the latest threats and actively monitoring their children’s online activities, parents can create a safer online environment for their kids,” it added.

“It’s crucial for parents to have open communication with their children about the potential risks they may encounter online and to enforce strict guidelines to ensure their safety.”