Rise in Cyberattacks Targeting Children Grow by 35% in Q1 2024

Kaspersky reported a significant rise in cyberattacks targeting children, marking a 35% increase in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period last year.

In a recent alarming revelation, Kaspersky reported a significant rise in cyberattacks targeting children, marking a 35% increase in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period last year. The cybersecurity firm detected nearly 1.3 million attack attempts from January to March 2024, highlighting the growing vulnerability of young internet users.

Kaspersky’s report detailed that a total of 1,264,866 attempts were made to attack mobile and desktop devices under the guise of popular children’s topics. This represents a substantial rise from Q1 2023, which saw 936,840 such attempts. The overwhelming majority of these threats were aimed at desktop devices, accounting for 98.7% of the attacks, while mobile threats comprised a mere 1.3%.

The analysis by Kaspersky experts identified that cybercriminals frequently exploited the names of popular children’s games and brands, such as Minecraft, Roblox, LEGO, and Disney. The lure of these well-known brands, coupled with popular cartoons like Paw Patrol and Bluey, served as bait to trap unsuspecting children and their guardians. Downloaders, which are programs designed to install other malicious software, were the most prevalent type of threat, contributing to over 1.2 million infections in the first quarter of 2024.

In addition to downloaders, Trojans—malicious programs that can steal sensitive information, alter data, or impair device performance—were notably widespread. Kaspersky recorded 27,576 Trojan attack attempts in Q1 2024. Adware, which inundates users with unwanted pop-up ads, was almost equally prevalent, with 27,570 attempts recorded.

Kaspersky researchers also uncovered malicious web pages disguised as legitimate sources offering toys, dolls, and other children’s products. These compromised sites posed a threat not only to children but also to parents searching for products online, potentially leading to inadvertent malware infections.

Hafeez Rehman, Technical Group Manager at Kaspersky, emphasized the escalating threat landscape, stating, “Cyberattacks targeting children are becoming a more frequent vector for cybercriminals. Children, often unaware of basic cybersecurity principles, can easily fall victim to such attacks, especially when attempting to download free versions of popular games or new episodes of their favorite cartoons. Cyber hygiene education is essential for parents who are concerned about their children’s safety online.”

To mitigate these risks, Kaspersky recommends that parents stay informed about the latest threats and actively monitor their children’s online activities. Tools like Kaspersky Safe Kids can help parents create a safer digital environment by providing comprehensive protection across both online and offline spaces. Furthermore, Kaspersky has developed educational resources such as the Kaspersky Cybersecurity Alphabet, designed to teach children about new technologies, basic cyber hygiene rules, and how to recognize and avoid online threats and scams.

In conclusion, the rise in cyberattacks targeting children underscores the need for heightened vigilance and education in cybersecurity. By leveraging trusted security solutions and fostering a culture of cyber awareness, parents can better protect their children from the growing array of online threats.