AVG Technologies recently released its Q4 2012 Community Powered Threat Report. The report investigates a number of malicious software developments, including the curious case of Benjamin Burton… sorry, the curious case of a Trojan developed to steal game login information by wait for it… an 11-year-old! An 11-year-old! I was innocently playing a brick game when I was eleven!
Why are pre-teens turning to malware?
In today’s world which is flooded with laptops, tablets and smartphones, kids become digitally fluent far earlier than previous generations. Now, AVG has found evidence that pre-teens are writing malware designed to steal login details from online gamers, both young and old. Gosh, I don’t think sending them to their bedrooms will solve this one!
Now stealing game logins might not seem that serious. You might be thinking that is today’s version of ringing the neighbours’ doorbells and running away, but trust me, you’re wrong there.
Why? Online gaming accounts are often connected to credit card details to enable in-game purchases, and may also have virtual currency attached to them amounting to hundreds of dollars.
Scared yet? Furthermore, many gamers unfortunately use the same login details for social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, hence exposing them to the possibility of cyber-bullying and identity theft not to mention the major inconvenience.
“We have now seen a number of examples of very young individuals writing malware, including an 11-year-old from Canada. The code usually takes the form of a basic Trojan written using the .NET framework, which is easy to learn for beginners and simple to deploy via a link in an email or posted on a social media page,” said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, Chief Technology Officer at AVG Technologies.
“We believe these junior programmers are motivated mainly by the thrill of outwitting their peers, rather than financial gain, but it is nevertheless a disturbing and increasing trend. It is also logical to assume that at least some of those responsible will be tempted to experiment with much more serious cyber-crimes.”
Why do mobile threats continue to rise?
The report also highlights the dramatic and ongoing increase in mobile malware, particularly of code designed to target Google’s hugely popular Android operating system. During the course of 2012, AVG Threat Labs reported on the First Android Rootkit, examples of mobile banking being targeted for attack, malicious apps that send text messages to premium rate services, and Trojan-infected versions of popular games on unofficial app stores, including bestseller Angry Birds Space.
Mobile threats also feature in the Threat Report’s predictions for 2013, notably in the form of increased MITMO (Man-In-The-Mobile) attacks that target PC and mobile Internet banking apps. Such threats might benefit from the growing BYOD trend, where workers connect their personal mobile devices to company networks.