In the era of modern technology, the age at which children are introduced to the digital world and technology is increasingly lower. This digital experience, however, can be marred by potential risks lurking online. As technology continues to advance, the tactics and strategies used by cybercriminals to target and exploit young internet users are also evolving.

Therefore, it’s crucial for parents to stay informed about the latest cybersecurity threats targeting kids to better protect them from potential harm. In this post, my colleague, Anna Larkina, and I explore some of the key cybersecurity trends that parents should be aware of and provide tips on how to safeguard their children’s online activities.

AI threats

AI is continuing to revolutionize various industries, and its daily use ranges from chatbots and AI wearables to personalized online shopping recommendations — among many other common uses. And of course, such global trends pique the interest and curiosity of children, who can use AI tools to do their homework or simply chat with AI-enabled chatbots. According to a UN study, about 80 percent of youths that took part in its survey claimed that they interact with AI multiple times a day. However, AI applications can pose numerous risks to young users involving data privacy loss, cyberthreats, and inappropriate content.

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 — whether it be an anime-style image or simple retouching. However, when adults, let alone children, upload their images to such applications, they never know in which databases their photos will ultimately remain, or whether they’ll be used further. Even if your child decides to play with such an application, it’s essential to use them extremely cautiously and ensure there’s no personal information that may identify the child’s identity — such as names, combined with addresses, or similar sensitive data — in the background of the photo, or consider avoiding using such applications altogether.

Moreover, AI apps – chatbots in particular – can easily provide age-inappropriate content when prompted. This poses a heightened risk as teenagers might feel more comfortable sharing personal information with the chatbot than with their real-life acquaintances, as evidenced by instances where the chatbot gave advice on masking the smell of alcohol and pot to a user claiming to be 15. On an even more inappropriate level, there are a multitude of AI chatbots that are specifically designed to provide an “erotic” experience. Although some require a form of age verification, this is a dangerous trend as some children might opt to lie about their age, while checks of real age are lacking.

It is estimated that on Facebook Messenger alone, there are over 300,000 chatbots in operation. However, not all of them are safe, and may carry various risks, like the ones mentioned earlier. Therefore, it is extremely important to discuss with children the importance of privacy and the dangers of oversharing, as well as talking to them about their online experiences regularly. It also reiterates the significance of establishing trusting relationships with one’s children. This will ensure that they feel comfortable asking their parents for advice rather than turning to a chatbot for guidance.

Young gamers under attack

According to statistics, 91 percent of children in the UK aged 3-15 play digital games on devices. The vast world of gaming is open to them — also making them vulnerable to cybercriminals’ attacks. For instance, in 2022, our security solutions detected more than seven million attacks relating to popular children’s games, resulting in a 57 percent increase in attempted attacks compared to the previous year. The top children’s games by the number of users targeted even included games for the youngest children — Poppy Playtime and Toca Life World — which are designed for children 3-8-years old.

What raises even more concerns is that sometimes children prefer to communicate with strangers on gaming platforms rather than on social media. In some games, unmoderated voice and text chats form a significant part of the experience. As more young people come online, criminals can build trust virtually, in the same way as they would entice someone in person — by offering gifts or promises of friendship. Once they lure a young victim by gaining their trust, cybercriminals can obtain their personal information, suggesting they click on a phishing link, download a malicious file onto their device disguised as a game mod for Minecraft or Fortnite, or even groom them for more nefarious purposes. This can be seen in the documentary series “hacker:HUNTER“, co-produced by Kaspersky, as one of the episodes revealed how cybercriminals identify skilled children through online games and then groom them to carry out hacking tasks.

The number of ways to interact within the gaming world is increasing, and now includes voice chats as well as AR and VR games. Both cybersecurity and social-related threats remain particular problems in children’s gaming. Parents must remain vigilant regarding their children’s behavior and maintain open communication to address any potential threats. Identifying a threat involves observing changes, such as sudden shifts in gaming habits that may indicate a cause for concern. To keep your child safe by stopping them downloading malicious files during their gaming experience, we advise installing a trusted security solution on all their devices.

Fintech for kids: the phantom menace

An increasing number of banks are providing specialized products and services designed for children — including bank cards for kids as young as 12. This gives parents helpful things like the ability to monitor their child’s expenditures, establish daily spending limits, or remotely transfer funds for the child’s pocket money.

Yet, by introducing banking cards for children, the latter can become susceptible to financially motivated threat actors and vulnerable to conventional scams, such as promises of a free PlayStation 5 and other similar valuable devices after entering card details on a phishing site. Using social engineering techniques, cybercriminals might exploit children’s trust by posing as their peers and requesting card details or money transfers to their accounts.

As the fintech industry for children continues to evolve, it’s crucial to educate children not only about financial literacy but also the basics of cybersecurity. To achieve this, you can read Kaspersky Cybersecurity Alphabet together with your child. It’s specifically designed to explain key online safety rules in a language easily comprehensible for children.

To avoid concerns about a child losing their card or sharing banking details, we recommend installing a digital NFC card on their phone instead of giving them a physical plastic card. Establish transaction confirmation with the parent if the bank allows it. And, of course, the use of any technical solutions must be accompanied by an explanation of how to use them safely.

Smart home threats for kids

In our interconnected world, an increasing number of devices — even everyday items like pet feeders — are becoming “smart” by connecting to the internet. However, as these devices become more sophisticated, they also become more susceptible to cyberattacks. This year, our researchers conducted a vulnerability study on a popular model of smart pet feeder. The findings revealed a number of serious security issues that could allow attackers to gain unauthorized access to the device and steal sensitive information such as video footage — potentially turning the feeder into a surveillance tool.

Despite the increasing number of threats, manufacturers are not rushing to create cyber-immune devices that preemptively prevent potential exploits of vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, the variety of different IoT devices purchased in households continues to grow. These devices are becoming the norm for children, which 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 could contact them through the device and request sensitive information such as their name, address, or even their parents’ credit card number and times when their parents are not at home. In a scenario such as this one, beyond just hacking the device, there is a risk of financial data loss or even a physical attack.

As we cannot restrict children from using smart home devices, our responsibility as parents is to maximize the security of these devices. This includes at least adjusting default security settings, setting new passwords, and explaining basic cybersecurity rules to children who use IoT devices.

I need my space!

As kids mature, they develop greater self-awareness, encompassing an understanding of their personal space, privacy, and sensitive data, both offline and in their online activities. The increasing accessibility of the internet means more children are prone to becoming aware of this. Consequently, when a parent firmly communicates the intent to install a parenting digital app on their child’s devices, not all children will take it calmly.

This is why parents now require the skill to discuss their child’s online experience and the importance of parenting digital apps for online safety while respecting the child’s personal space. This involves establishing clear boundaries and expectations, discussing the reasons for using the app with the child. Regular check-ins are also vital, and adjustments to the restrictions should be made as the child matures and develops a sense of responsibility. Learn more in our guide on kids’ first gadgets, where, together with experienced child psychologist Saliha Afridi, our privacy experts analyze a series of important milestones to understand how to introduce such apps into a child’s life properly and establish a meaningful dialogue about cybersecurity online.

Forbidden fruit can be… malicious

If an app is unavailable in one’s home region, a child may start looking for an alternative, but this alternative is often only 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, our researchers found more than 190 apps infected with the Harly Trojan on Google Play, which signed users up for paid services without their knowledge. A conservative estimate of the number of downloads of these apps is 4.8 million, while the actual figure of victims may be even higher.

Children are not the only ones following this trend; adults are as well, which was highlighted in our latest consumer cyberthreats predictions report as a part of the annual Kaspersky Security Bulletin. That’s why it’s crucial for kids and their parents to understand the fundamentals of cybersecurity. For instance, it’s important to pay attention to the permissions that an app requests when installing it: a simple calculator, for instance, shouldn’t need access to your location or contact list.

How to keep kids safe?

As we can see, many of the trends that are playing out in society today 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 the fintech industry. Our 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.
  • With the right tools such as Kaspersky Safe Kids, parents can effectively safeguard their children against cyberthreats in the digital age.
  • To help parents introduce their children to cybersecurity amid the evolving threat landscape, our experts have developed the above-mentioned Kaspersky Cybersecurity Alphabet, with key concepts from the cybersecurity industry. In this book, your child can get to know about 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 offspring knows how to distinguish a phishing website, how VPN and QR-codes work, and even what encryption and honeypots are and what role they play in modern cybersecurity. You can download the pdf version of the book and also the Kaspersky Cybersecurity Alphabet poster for free.

#cybersecurity #threats #kids #parents #aware

In this post, we go through a thorough checklist based on our recommendations for how to prepare and what to do with your child’s first gadget, which were developed by Kaspersky in collaboration with Dr. Saliha Afridi, clinical psychologist. To make this challenge easier for you, we’ve included a link to download the handbook in PDF format at the end of this post.

What should I do before give a gadget to my kid?

  1. Create a child account
  2. Disable in-app purchases
  3. Install essential apps
  4. Adjust app privacy
  5. Use a digital parenting app (like Kaspersky Safe Kids)
  6. Set age-appropriate filters
  7. Block unknown calls

How do I introduce a new gadget to my child?

  1. Establish family rules and good tech-habits
  2. Create tech-free zones and times
  3. Promote non-tech activities
  4. Limit your kid’s phone usage during:
    • meals
    • bedtime
    • family gatherings and outings
    • homework and studying
    • hosting social gatherings
    • engaging in outdoor activities
    • morning routines

What online safety rules should my child know?

  1. Set clear ground rules about what they can and can’t do online
  2. Teach them privacy basics and tell them about the risks of oversharing
  3. Emphasize that they should never share personal info or login details
  4. Advise children to use non-personal usernames

What are the main online risks I should tell my kid about?

  1. Watch out for phishing scams
  2. Avoid unauthorized game downloads
  3. Ignore intrusive ads and surveys
  4. Exercise caution regarding links and email attachments
  5. Seek help if uncomfortable or suspicious regarding something online
  6. Use unique passwords, and consider Kaspersky Password Manager  for security

How do I help my children avoid online strangers?

  1. Telling them to say no to unknown friend requests
  2. Telling them to become suspicious if someone asks personal questions
  3. Maintaining open communication about your kids’ online activities

What online gaming safety advice should I give?

  1. Play with friends you know
  2. Enable a “gaming mode” for safety
  3. Download games only from trusted stores
  4. Ignore chat-room links
  5. Never share passwords – even with friends

My kid is being bullied on the Internet. What should I do?

  1. Listen to them without interrupting
  2. Make them feel both safe and understood
  3. Take screenshots of harmful content
  4. Discourage retaliation
  5. Update privacy settings, change passwords, block or report the bully
  6. Report to the school
  7. Consider professional help for stress-related signs

My kid is bullying others online. What should I do?

  1. Stay calm, gather evidence, and understand the context
  2. Get your child’s side of the story
  3. Help them see the impact on others
  4. Encourage an apology to the victim
  5. Without being overly invasive, consider using digital parenting apps
  6. Promote responsible online behavior
  7. Seek professional help if necessary

What questions should I ask my child to ensure their online experience is safe?

  1. What’s interesting online today?
  2. Anything confusing encountered?
  3. Do you chat or game with strangers?
  4. How do you choose what to share?
  5. Have you ever felt uncomfortable online?
  6. Are there any new apps or websites you enjoy?
  7. Do you know how to handle inappropriate messages?
  8. Have you ever seen someone being unkind online? How did you react?

How do I monitor my kids online without invading their privacy?

  1. Talk about their online experience
  2. Engage in their online activities together
  3. Use safety-focused parenting apps
  4. Explain why certain controls are needed
  5. Shift from monitoring to mentoring
  6. Stay updated on digital trends and share insights

What are signs of a negative impact of devices on my kids?

  1. Lower grades
  2. Less physical and social activity
  3. Eye strain, poor sleep, bad posture
  4. More irritability, withdrawal
  5. Neglecting hobbies, responsibilities
  6. Anxiety, depression, low self-esteem
  7. Shorter attention span, memory issues

We’ve explored the crucial steps for empowering both you and your child in the digital realm. For your convenience, download our PDF handbook — a practical resource to help you navigate your child’s tech journey with confidence.

#Preparing #childs #gadget #comprehensive #checklist

Sooner or later (most) parents inevitably get round to buying their kids their own electronic device. According to Kaspersky’s research, 61 percent of children get their first device between the ages of eight and 12, and, perhaps surprisingly, in 11 percent of cases, they’re given their own cellphone or tablet before they turn five. It’s essential for parents to know the guidelines for introducing a device into their kids’ lives for the first time.

Together with clinical psychologist Dr. Saliha Afridi, Kaspersky is presenting cybersecurity and psychological considerations that parents would do well to be aware of before giving their kids their very first tech gadgets.

What to do before giving a gadget to a child?

Set up a Child Account before giving your offspring their first gadget. Whether it’s a phone or a tablet, it’s crucial to ensure the age-appropriateness and safety of the gadget. Even if it’s a brand-new gift, prioritize setting up this feature. A Child Account acts as a safeguard on the device, preventing things like downloads of mature content or songs with explicit content. For detailed guidance on creating a kid’s account, refer to our guide for Android or the one for iOS.

Install all the basic applications that support either communication or geo-location (like messenger and map apps), plus learning applications. And don’t forget to set up the privacy and confidentiality settings in each of the installed applications, so that the child, for example, isn’t discoverable via their phone number by unknown individuals. Tools like Privacy Checker can assist you in tailoring the optimal protection settings for various devices and platforms.

Remember to install a digital parenting app as well. This will empower you to curate content, monitor the amount of time your kid spends on specific apps (and set limits if needed), and track their current location.

How to introduce a new device into a child’s life?

Walk them through the device’s functionalities as well as the potential dangers when gifting them a new gadget. This is an opportune moment to explore its features and understand its potential pitfalls.

Craft a set of family usage rules together. In this conversation, it’s important to foster an understanding and consensus about the responsibilities and expectations tied to device ownership. To ensure a healthy balance, establish tech-free zones and times — perhaps during dinner or the hours leading up to bedtime. Designate moments for non-tech hobbies like reading, outdoor games, or puzzles, which can act as beneficial alternatives to screen time. Periodically revisiting and refining these rules as your kid grows and technology advances is key.

And remember — unless a kid shows a healthy level of engagement with real-life activities and in-person socializing, don’t introduce a smartphone or social media. One way they can earn a device is by showing that they’re capable of doing the “non-negotiables” regularly and consistently. These include sleep, exercise, homework, socializing, eating healthily, and wakeful resting periods.

How to talk to a child about online safety?

Encourage open communication from the outset. Engage junior in conversations about their online experiences — ensuring they feel safe to share both the good and the bad experiences.

Stay up to date with the latest digital trends and threats as well as high-profile cyberbullying or data breaches. Share this information with your child in a way they understand. You can learn the latest cybersecurity news via our blog.

Bring up the permanence of online actions. This includes how things shared online stay there forever and can affect their reputation and future opportunities. Kids should be especially careful about information they share about themselves: never giving out their address, geolocation or login credentials and passwords. Additionally, they should avoid using their real names as user IDs, as these can be potential clues for attackers to discover their other social media accounts. Help them understand the concept of privacy and the potential risks of sharing too much information.

Teach your kid that accepting friend requests from unfamiliar individuals in real life should be avoided. It’s crucial to explain that if someone they don’t know is persistently trying to find out personal information about them or their parents, it’s a cause for concern. Your child shouldn’t feel they’re being rude or impolite if they don’t respond to a request for friendship. In social networks, just like in life, there needs to be privacy.

By having such conversations and educating your children about online risks in a non-confrontational manner, you raise your kids being more likely to approach you when they encounter something questionable online. You should make sure they maintain a stance of curiosity — not judgment or fear. Your reactions will determine how open they feel about sharing in the future.

And a digital parenting app serves here as a valuable tool to enable you to monitor your kids’ online searches and activity, ensuring a safer online experience.

What are the main risks I should tell my child about?

In our digital age, kids are vulnerable to cybercriminals, often because they’re unfamiliar with essential cybersecurity principles and common scam tactics. It’s our duty as guardians to educate them on these matters before they inadvertently fall prey to them.

For instance, guide your kid in identifying deceptive commercials, bogus survey requests, counterfeit lotteries, and other schemes that can jeopardize their personal data. Help them grasp the reality that, while it might be tempting to download a Barbie movie ahead of its official release, offers like these could be ploys by cybercriminals aimed at pilfering data or even siphoning money from their parents’ cards. A reliable security solution can detect and block any phishing websites or any malicious software.

Instill in your child the habit of being critical and cautious when online. Teach them to pause before clicking when it comes to dubious links, unfamiliar email attachments, or messages from unknown entities. Discuss the appropriate permissions apps should have on their devices. For example, there’s no valid reason for a Calculator app to request geolocation access.

Make conversations about cybersecurity more enjoyable and interesting by discussing the topic through games and other entertaining formats. Most importantly, instill confidence in them to approach a trusted adult when faced with unsettling or suspicious situations online.

How to check that you’re prepared?

Once a gadget appears, your family’s life will inevitably undergo a transformation, as your kid will be drawn into the realm of the internet. Rather than forbidding it, it’s advisable to guide them on proper online behavior — if used correctly, a gadget can really help kids learn and grow. However, this can only happen if they know when and how to alert their parents about any online threats they come across – whether they’re receiving strange messages from adults, requests for personal information, or stumbling upon phishing sites.

Learning, however, is a gradual process, and it doesn’t guarantee perfection from the start. Mistakes will naturally occur, such as your kid accidentally downloading malware or engaging with suspicious individuals or struggling with screen time management. Nonetheless, your role as a parent is to provide support and assistance in their learning process. Only this way can you help your child be safe online.

To get ready for the challenge, we suggest taking a peek at our complete handbook for parents about getting your kid’s first gadget.

#Preparing #childs #gadget