Cybercriminals target popular children’s games through parents’ smartphone

Cybercriminals launched more than 7 million attacks on popular games titles for children in 2022, including mimicking Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite, and Apex Legends games to target parent’s devices

March 13, 2023 01:59 pm | Updated 02:28 pm IST

Cybercriminals target children’s games through parents’ smartphone using phishing attacks.

Cybercriminals target children’s games through parents’ smartphone using phishing attacks. | Photo Credit: AP

Cybercriminals launched more than 7 million attacks on children, exploiting popular game titles in 2022, an increase of 57% compared to 2021.

And since children in the age group often do not have their own computer and use their parent’s devices, the threats are suspected to be aimed at obtaining credit card data and credentials of the parent, a report from Kaspersky said.

These phishing attacks included pages used to target parents’ devices, luring young players, by mimicking global titles including Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite, and Apex Legends games. In total, over 878,000 phishing pages were created for these four games in 2022.

Attackers purposely create fake game sites evoking children’s interest to follow phishing pages and download malicious files. In 2022, 232,735 gamers encountered almost 40,000 files, including malware and potentially unwanted applications, that were disguised as the most popular children’s games, the report found.

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This has resulted in a 14% increase in the number of victims, compared to 33,000 gamers attacked in 2021.

The most common social engineering techniques targeting young players involve offers to download popular cheats and mods for games with manuals on how to install the cheat properly. These instructions make a point to ensure that users disable the antivirus before installing a file.

This may not alert young players, but it might be specially created so malware avoids detection on the infected device. The longer the user’s antivirus is disabled, the more information might be collected from the victim’s device, the report said.

Games designed for 3-8-year-olds, including titles like Poppy Playtime and Toca Life World were also found to have been targeted.

“In 2022, cybercriminals even exploited games designed for 3-8-year-old children. This highlights cybercriminals do not filter their targets by age and attack even the youngest gamers, with the likely target of reaching their parent’s devices”,Vasily M. Kolesnikov, a security expert at Kaspersky said.

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