Kaspersky predicts key threats targeting children in 2024


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
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 content when prompted. 

2. The growth of malicious actors’ attacks on young gamersAccording 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. 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. 

5. Children will demand that their personal online space is respectedAs 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. 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 copiesFrom 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,” commented Andrey Sidenko, Security and Privacy Expert, Kaspersky. 

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