Hackers attack children's websites

Children's websites targeted by hackers

Anti-virus company Avast has revealed hackers are now targeting children’s gaming websites to spread malware and hack into the home network.

In December 2011 Avast discovered more than 60 malware-infected sites that include the words ‘game’ or ‘arcade’ in the domain name. According to Avast the most visited site was ‘cutearcade.com’ which has a number of online games, including dressing up dolls and colouring. It infected more than 12,600 users with a malicious software application known as ‘Trojan’, this then redirected users to ‘linuxstabs.com’, a known distribution point for malware.

Commenting independently, information security company Commissum reveals the deliberate targeting of children’s websites influences the future of computer security. Though public awareness of malware threats has increased, it is ironic this success has prompted hackers to shift their attention to more vulnerable victims. Children may be using their parents’ computers, which may contain data such as passwords, credit card details and bank details. If the children are using their own computer, it is likely that it will not be as up-to-date with anti-malware software and safe browser settings as an adult’s computer, and this would make it easier for a hacker to compromise.  

“This is a particularly worrying trend, as it means hackers are now targeting the weakest link in social terms. Children’s gaming websites contain mini-games, animations and intense interactivity. This is all designed to be attractive to young children, who have less knowledge of possible dangers than adults,” said security consultant at Commissum Briony Williams. “So a small child will click on anything without a second thought – and if that child is using their parent’s computer, then the whole family could end up with infected, and possibly even useless, computers.”

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