Scammers using kid-friendly apps to hack parents - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

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Scammers using kid-friendly apps to hack parents

(PHOTO: FOX19) (PHOTO: FOX19)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Kids are growing up in an ever-increasingly tech-savvy world, but that high-speed world comes with malware speed bumps on kid-friendly websites that are putting their parents' internet security at risk.

Hackers are now targeting kids, whom they see as a gateway to their parents' information, hiding malware in ads on popular kids' website, apps, ringtones, and even YouTube videos.

Malware can log keystrokes, steal passwords and hijack browsers. When kids come across this malicious software on the same computer or device that their parents use for online banking and bill paying, hackers can steal their identity or money.

According to the online security firm RiskIQ, 42,000 apps in Google Play were found to contain malware in 2013. Compare that to just 11,000 apps in the marketplace with malware in 2011 - a 281 percent increase.

"I hope my kids are a little more savvy and know that there are bad guys out there who might try to contact them or reach them through that portal or device," said Kate Bell, a Cincinnati mom with three tech-savvy children. "But when the temptation is really great, like a terrific game or an add-on or something flashy, it's heard to say no."

Experts advise parents to have a "kids device" that they can use that doesn't have access to information parents would not want to get into the wrong hands.

"They use a computer that is purely just a bare-bones computer. We don't store anything on there beyond apps," said Chris Bell.

Other expert tips include:

Make sure kids use technology in a common area, not their bedrooms.

Software that allows users to block certain websites.

Set clear rules for kids, such as not downloading apps without checking for permission.

Disable Java in your web browser.

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