With most children able to access or own a smartphone or tablet, the age at which they begin their acquaintance with the digital world and technology keeps decreasing. Therefore, it’s crucial for parents to stay informed about the latest cybersecurity threats targeting kids to better protect them from potential harm. Kaspersky experts explore some of the key cybersecurity trends parents should be aware of, and provide tips on how to safeguard their children's online activities.
1. Children will increasingly use AI tools that, so far, are not ready to provide the necessary level of cybersecurity and age-appropriate content
According to a UN research, about 80 percent of young people claimed they interact with AI multiple times a day. With the development of 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 remain, and whether they will be used further.
Moreover, AI apps, specifically, chatbots can easily provide age-inappropriate cont
2. The growth of malicious actors’ attacks on young gamers
According to latest online statistics, 91 percent of children aged 3-15 play games on any device. For some games, unmoderated voice and text chat is a large part of the experience. With more young people online, criminals can virtually build trust in the same way they would in person. Firstly, cybercriminals gain the trust of young players by luring them with gifts or promises of friendship. 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.
3. The development of FinTech industry for kids marks the appearance of new threats
An increasing number of banks are providing specialized products and services tailored for children, including banking cards designed for kids as young as 12. Yet, with the introduction of banking cards for children, the latter also become susceptible to financially motivated threat actors and vulnerable to conventional scams, like promises of a free PlayStation 5 or other valuable assets 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.
4. The number of smart home threat cases with children being potential targets, will increase
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. However, this also means 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 sensitive information such as their name, address and time, when their parents are not at home — or even their parents’ credit card number. In such a scenario, beyond just device hacking, there is also a risk of financial data loss or even a physical attack.
5. Children will demand their personal online space is respected
As children mature, they develop greater self-awareness, encompassing an understanding of their personal space, privacy, and sensitive data, both offline and in their online activities. Consequently, when a parent firmly communicates the intent to install a parenting digital app on a device, not all kids will take it calmly. This is why parents now require the skill to discuss their offspring’s online experience and the importance of parenting digital apps for online safety while respecting personal space. This involves establishing clear boundaries and expectations and discussing the reasons for using the app with any child.
6. Children are eager to download apps that are unavailable in their country, but stumble upon malicious copies
If an app is unavailable in your region, young users will look for alternatives, which is often a malicious copy. Even if they turn to official app stores like Google Play, they still run the risk of falling prey to cybercriminals. From 2020 to 2022, Kaspersky researchers have found more than 190 apps infected with Harly Trojan on Google Play, 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.
“As we can see, many of the trends that are playing out in society are also affecting children, making them potential targets for attackers. This includes both the development and popularity of AI and smart homes, as well as the expansion of the world of gaming and FinTech industry. Therefore, 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. All this is now a must-have knowledge not only for adults, but also for the youngest users,” comments Andrey Sidenko, security and privacy expert at Kaspersky.
Kaspersky experts are convinced that protecting children from cybersecurity threats in 2024 requires proactive measures from parents:
- 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’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.
- To help parents introduce their children to cybersecurity amidst the evolving threat landscape, Kaspersky experts have developed the Kaspersky Cybersecurity Alphabet with key concepts from the cybersecurity industry. In this book, your kid will get to know new technologies, learn the main cyber hygiene rules, find out how to avoid online threats, and recognize fraudsters’ tricks. After reading this book together, you’ll be sure that your kid knows how to distinguish phishing website, how VPN and QR-codes work, and even what honeypots and encryption are and what role they play in modern cybersecurity. You can download the pdf version of the book for free and go through the basics of cybersecurity with your child, building their cybersafe future.
- To secure your child from downloading any malicious files during their gaming experience, we advise to install a trusted security solution on their device.
- With the right tools such as Kaspersky’s digital parenting app Safe Kids, parents can effectively safeguard their children against cyber threats in the digital age.