Children are targeted by cybercriminals more often than one may think. Some statistics show one in 40 kids have been victims of identity theft. According to former law enforcement veteran and author, Robert Chappell, 1.3 million children have their identities stolen each year; 50% of them are under the age of six and in over 50% of those cases, the perpetrator is someone known by the victim. Those are shocking statistics. Cyberthieves specifically point their attacks toward children because the risk of being detected is low.
While not exclusively targeted to children, recently the popular Anime crunchyroll.com site was hijacked. The site was not breached, but hackers redirected the address to a location where visitors could download a new desktop version of the Crunchyroll software. Turns out, what product fans got all excited about was tainted with malware; a keylogger to be exact. Gaming sites and apps are targeted frequently, which is why children often become victims of identity theft.
A keylogger is software that records every key typed on the keyboard. Keylogging malware sends all that information back to attackers. If a child downloads an infected game and a keylogger ends up on that device, anything that is typed is captured.
Public internet-connected computers are common locations to find keyloggers, such as those in hotel business centers, internet cafés, and retail outlets that have an available computer for customers to use. However, those are not the only places they can be found.
If you allow your kids to connect to Wi-Fi at a public place, such as the library or a café, a hacker may be sitting nearby who is able to trick them or you into connecting to a phony access point. Kids are sharp cookies, and some can connect at a blink of an eye. You may not even realize it happened until too late. If that happens, a hacker can potentially trick them into downloading software or apps to the device that will also log all keystrokes. Keylogging is not limited to computer keyboards. It can also affect touch screens.
Remember that even if a Wi-Fi connection in a public area requires a password, that doesn’t make it secure.
As for your children, they have social security numbers from essentially time of birth and therefore are also susceptible to cybercrime. Check their credit reports annually too. While we associate these with credit, those numbers are provided for other purposes, such as healthcare and for school. Always ask why someone needs that information. If they cannot give you a satisfactory answer, don’t provide it.
No connection is ever going to be 100% secure. But lower your child’s risk of becoming a victim of identity theft by checking their credit at annualcreditreport.com every time you check yours. Then, there won’t be any surprises when you send them off to college and they try to get a car loan.