Attacks targeting young gamers increased by 57% in 2022.
Brazil and Mexico are among the Top 15 countries worldwide with the highest number of affected unique users.
Kaspersky experts found that by 2022, cybercriminals launched more than seven million attacks exploiting popular game titles targeting audiences between the ages of 3 and 16. The most recent report from Kaspersky, The dark side of virtual worlds in games for childrenreveals a 57% increase in such attacks compared to 2021. To infect devices, scammers create fake websites imitating popular games to fool youngsters gamers to download malicious files.
According to Kaspersky statistics, the pages of phishing used in these scams mostly imitate the games of Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite and Apex Legends. In total, more than 878,000 fake websites were created in 2022, misusing the brand name of these four games. In addition, in the same period, there were nearly 40,000 attempts to install malicious files, including malware and PUAs disguised as popular children’s games. These attempts were blocked on 232,735 unique players, with Brazil and Mexico ranking second and 15th.to place, respectively, of the Top 15 countries worldwide with the highest number of affected unique users.
Distribution of the Top 10 child games used as lures for the dissemination of malware and unwanted software, by number of affected users, from January 1 to December 31, 2022
An important alert is the fact that children and adolescents often use the family computer or use the parents’ data when registering the games. In this context, scams targeting young gamers not only threaten them, but also jeopardize parental financial information and passwords that may be associated with children’s accounts.
To infect computers, criminals use simple social engineering techniques, such as offering tricks and mod, the well-known game mods that allow you to customize characters, settings, etc. Although popular, the mod They are not official developer resources and may contain malware. In fact, on the site of phishingthe user can get a complete manual on how to install the mode correctly.
What is particularly interesting is that there are specific instructions that point out the need to disable the antivirus before installing a file (mode). This may not be an alert for young gamers, but it is a pre-thought so that malware is not detected on the infected device. The longer the user’s antivirus is disabled, the more information could be collected from the victim’s computer.
“In 2022, cybercriminals also exploited games designed for children ages 3-8. This demonstrates their immorality and their focus on topics that can be effective in stealing information and infecting devices. By exploring this audience, we found that criminals are not bothered with creating sophisticated schemes to trick them, relying on children having little to no knowledge of online scams, making them easy targets for these types of campaigns. This trend highlights the importance of parents being aware of their children’s online activities. Having a security solution helps to avoid problems, but the presence of parents when installing a game is essential, both to guide them and to avoid simple scams like those discovered in our report”, says Fabio Assolini, director of the Research and Analysis Team for Latin America at Kaspersky.
Main conclusions of the report:
- The most popular titles exploited by cybercriminals are Minecraft and Robloxboth in 2022 and 2021.
- Since half of the 60 million gamers of Roblox are under 13 years of age, most of the victims of these cybercriminals are potentially children who have no knowledge of cybersecurity.
- The best games for kids ranked by number of players attacked even included games for the little ones: – Poppy Playtime and Touch Life World, Created primarily for players ages 3-8.
- Kaspersky experts observed a 41% increase in the number of affected people downloading malicious files disguised as Brawl Stars, reaching around 10,000 attacked players in 2022.
The full report on the threats to children in the online gaming worlds is available on KDaily.
To keep children safe online, Kaspersky recommends:
- Show interest in children’s online activities. Offer to watch their favorite series or listen to music with them. Alternatively, you can learn some practices together to stay safe online.
- Consider using parental control apps. It’s important to talk about this with children, explain how these apps work and why they are necessary for them to be safe online.
- Explain that sensitive information should not be shared in private messages or apps, and spend more time communicating with children about online safety measures. Try to pay attention to your own habits. Do you use your smartphone during lunch or while chatting? Do children imitate your habits or behavior patterns? Do they react differently when you put your phone down?
- Make cybersecurity conversations more engaging and interesting by talking about it through games and other fun formats.