Do you let your kids play games on your computer? Is the computer in the living or dining room so that you can watch what they are accessing on the internet? Do you periodically go and have a look at what they are viewing or doing on the computer? You may think you are being a responsible parent and that you have all your bases covered, but, you’d be wrong. Canny hackers who know that adults are becoming more pc savvy and adept at spotting a phishing scam or suspicious email, are now turning their attention to children. Parents of children who let them use their computers are at risk from these new breed of hackers. They get the kids to log onto innocent looking games or cartoons which have a virus or malicious software hidden in amongst them. The sites then begin to load up the virus behind the scenes and work to steal passwords, banking information and other such personal details, from the adults, even when the computer is switched off. The reason that children are now being targeted is that they are seen as an ‘easy mark’ by these hackers, as they have probably not come up against this type of invasion or deception before. And one important factor to consider is that the games are typically free, which is an enormous incitement for the kids to download them.
The Czech security firm – Avast Virus Labs, says that one website – CuteArcade.com has so far reportedly infected around 12,600 computers. They have also spotted HiddenNinjaGames.com which they say could be another risky site to log onto. The CTO of AVAST Software, Ondrej Vlcek comments, “Games like these require clicking and children don’t think much about what they are clicking on. This makes them – or their parents’ computer – quite susceptible to malicous software.” The security firm has recently found a further 60 sites, which it identified as having some malicious software infected within the site, all with the word ‘Game’ or ‘Arcade’ in the title. Apparently it is the ‘driveby downloads’ that initially infect the computer with trojan software that then direct the PC towards sites which then infect it with further malicious software.
Avast say that children make ideal targets for these types of virus as it is “The way children browse the web – impulsively hopping between different sites. If there is something dangerous, a child will find it.” said Mr. Vlcek. And although most of the infected sites could have been legitimate at some point, many have been created specifically with the sole purpose of delivering malware. There is no way an adult can tell by just looking if a site is infected, so a child definitely will not be able to. Your best chance of avoiding these sites is to make sure your browser is up to date and that you have a good Anti Virus program, such as Norton or AVG. As Mr Vlcek says, “At a minimum, people need an antivirus program that looks for various kinds of malware and scans websites for infections.”