Monday, March 26, 2007

Kids, Spyware, Taxes, Fraud

Kids are spyware magnets.

Not only do they enjoy clicking on things adults wouldn't dare go near, they do so without regard to the family tax files, or banking information stored on the same computer. Spyware-making criminals understand this, and increasingly are using your children as a vector into the family computer.

Kids > spyware > taxes > identity fraud.

According to a recent study by Symantec, in which they plugged a brand new computer into the net and "let it rip", sites targeting children accounted for by far the largest percentage of the 359 adware and spyware programs downloaded in the first hour. The runners-up were travel sites and sites offering sports information.

Tom Pahl, an attorney at the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), backed up the contention that kids are a troubling vector for malware in a recent interview on

"Kids are an easy way to sneak spyware onto a PC," he said. "... the behavior that makes you likely to contract spyware, that's the behavior kids engage in."

Parry Aftab, a child online safety advocate who has been talking about these kind of threats for years, agrees.

"When I talk to parents, you can always spot the parents with boys who are gamers. They say, 'My computer is running so slow, I have adware and spyware everywhere.' I always ask if they have a child between age 9 and 15 who like games. They are intentionally targeting kids without question."

So there you have it. Kids are a vector - and a risk, if you're doing your taxes on the same computer upon which they are playing games.

So play it smart this tax season. Buy the kids their own computer, so they can download all the spyware they like, and do your taxes at work on a computer you trust.

No comments: