Children increasingly at risk online, parents warned
Kaspersky Lab finds one in five children subjected to cyber ‘incidents’ in past year
Children are being placed increasingly at risk from "unsupervised" use of the Internet, Russian cyber-security specialist Kaspersky Lab has warned.
The company, in a survey conducted with B2B International, found 22% of respondents' children were affected by cyber "incidents" over a 12-month period. Mishaps included cyberbullying, but Kaspersky Lab also counted instances of children encountering sites containing unsuitable material.
"While surfing the Internet, children may come across Web pages containing inappropriate information; for example, websites with erotic content or information about weapons or drugs," the company said in a statement. "Another common problem arises when search results don't lead to the kind of information the user is looking for. For example, a child might search for cartoons, but get results about cartoons for adults."
Kaspersky also highlighted social networks as "a serious source of threats" and expressed concern over the lack of restrictions younger Web users face when adding a contact to their network. The company's survey found that "21% of parents lost money or confidential information stored on their device due to their child's activities".
Kaspersky warned of app downloads, particularly games, containing information that might be unsuitable for children or harmful to their device, as children could be more easily duped into downloading infected files or entering data on a phishing page. The company claimed Android-based devices accounted for around 99% of all mobile malware, without citing a source.
"Today many children spend too much time on their devices," Kaspersky Lab said. "Most prohibitions and access restrictions are hard to apply to a mobile device which is always with the child, but there is a huge arsenal of technical means that could help to limit the time children use their mobile devices, or set times when they can play with the gadget."
Kaspersky also suggested a range of non-technical mitigation measures, such as limiting the time allotted to a child's use of a device.