Children learning to code maliciously, report says

8 February 2013
By Sofia Mitra-Thakur
Mobile version
Share |
Pre-teens are writing malware designed to steal login details from online gamers

Pre-teens are writing malware designed to steal login details from online gamers

A new report has revealed that pre-teens are writing malware designed to steal login details from online gamers.

Anti-virus company AVG released the report which investigated a number of malicious software developments, including the case of a Trojan developed by an 11-year-old child to steal game login information.

AVG said that in a world filled with laptops, tablets and smartphones, today’s children become digitally fluent far earlier than previous generations.

While stealing someone’s game logins may at first seem a minor problem, online gaming accounts are often connected to credit card details to enable in-game purchases, and may also have virtual currency attached to them amounting to hundreds of dollars. 

Furthermore, many gamers unfortunately use the same login details for social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, potentially putting the victim at risk of cyber-bullying, in addition to identity theft and major inconvenience.

“We have now seen a number of examples of very young individuals writing malware, including an 11-year-old from Canada,” said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief technology officer at AVG Technologies. “The code usually takes the form of a basic Trojan written using the .NET framework, which is easy to learn for beginners and simple to deploy via a link in an email or posted on a social media page.

“We believe these junior programmers are motivated mainly by the thrill of outwitting their peers, rather than financial gain, but it is nevertheless a disturbing and increasing trend. It is also logical to assume that at least some of those responsible will be tempted to experiment with much more serious cyber-crimes.”

The report also highlighted the increase in mobile malware, particularly of code designed to target Google’s Android operating system.

During the course of 2012, AVG Threat Labs reported on the First Android Rootkit, examples of mobile banking being targeted for attack, malicious apps that send text messages to premium rate services, and Trojan-infected versions of popular games on unofficial app stores, including bestseller Angry Birds Space.

Mobile threats also feature in the Threat Report’s predictions for 2013, notably in the form of increased MITMO (Man-In-The-Mobile) attacks that target PC and mobile Internet banking apps.

Such threats might benefit from the growing BYOD trend, where workers connect their personal mobile devices to company networks.

Alongside the rise in mobile malware, the Threat Labs found exploit toolkits continue to dominate when it comes to online threats.

Almost 60 per cent of all threat activity online was performed by exploit toolkits in 2012.

The use of such kits is believed to be the result of established cyber-criminals realising that they can create and sell commercial toolkits at a premium to less technically savvy peers eager to get into the market. 

One example of a new exploit toolkit which emerged during the last quarter of 2012, and bore a remarkable resemblance to the Blackhole Exploit Kit, was the Cool Toolkit.

This new toolkit accounted for 16 per cent of the top Web threats in Q4 2012, topped only by Blackhole at 40 per cent.

Further information:

Read the full report

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1605

"We visit Barcelona, one of the smartest cities in the world, to find out what makes it so special. What does it look like and what is the future?"

E&T jobs

  • High Voltage Engineer

    Premium job

    Essex X-Ray & Medical Equipment
    • Great Dunmow, Essex

    This High Voltage Engineer will provide design leadership for high voltage cable assemblies up to one megavolt.

    • Recruiter: Essex X-Ray & Medical Equipment

    Apply for this job

  • Sales Electronics Engineer

    Premium job

    Precision Microdrives
    • London (Greater)
    • £25,000 - £30,000 starting salary, inclusive of on-target commissions.

    Precision Microdrives (PMD) is a fast growing technology company that designs, produces and trades miniature electro-mechanical mechanisms

    • Recruiter: Precision Microdrives

    Apply for this job

  • Analogue Electronics Engineer

    Premium job

    Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF)
    • Uppsala (Stad) (SE)

    The Swedish Institute of Space Institute (IRF) in Uppsala search for an analogue electronics engineer.

    • Recruiter: Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF)

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Robotic Systems Engineer

    Premium job

    National Oceanographic Centre
    • Southampton, Hampshire
    • £45,271 to £49,207 per annum

    Responsible for technical oversight and project management of internally and externally funded innovation centre projects.

    • Recruiter: National Oceanographic Centre

    Apply for this job

  • Smart Grid Research Engineer

    Premium job

    University of Strathclyde
    • Cumbernauld, Glasgow
    • Grade: 6/7* £26,537 - £37,768*

    Work as part of a growing dynamic team on a wide range of technical projects with particular emphasis on experimental validation and testing

    • Recruiter: University of Strathclyde

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Engineer - Water

    Premium job

    Mott MacDonald
    • Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

    Mott MacDonald's highly successful Water and Environment Unit is recruiting an electrical engineer....

    • Recruiter: Mott MacDonald

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Design Engineer

    Premium job

    Mott MacDonald
    • Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

    Mott MacDonald's highly successful water business continues to win and deliver a fantastic amount of work....

    • Recruiter: Mott MacDonald

    Apply for this job

  • Senior Electronics Engineer

    York Instruments
    • York, North Yorkshire

    Senior electronics engineer to work as part of a team developing an MEG imaging system; working with the engineering team and external contractors.

    • Recruiter: York Instruments

    Apply for this job

  • Field Application Engineer

    Intel
    • Madrid

    Responsible for giving product presentations to the customer describing how Intel products provide the optimum solution to their application.

    • Recruiter: Intel

    Apply for this job

  • Control Engineer

    Bank of England
    • Debden
    • Competitive

    We’re looking for a qualified engineer with experience of computer programming for engineering systems and instrumentation.

    • Recruiter: Bank of England

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T