Malware now being developed by pre-teens: AVG

Security vendor finds children dabbling with the creation of malicious code

Kids may be getting into laptops, tablets and smartphones earlier than ever before, but this also extends to the development of malicious code for those devices, according to AVG’s Q4 2012 Community Powered Threat Report, which found evidence of pre-teens writing malware.

To support this claim, AVG Technologies’ chief technology officer, Yuval Ben-Itzhak, points to an incident where an 11-year-old child developed a Trojan to steal game login information.

“We have now seen a number of examples of very young individuals writing malware, including an 11-year-old from Canada,” he said.

Ben-Itzhak said the code usually takes the form of a basic Trojan written using the .NET framework.

“[.NET] is easy to learn for beginners and simple to deploy via a link in an email or posted on a social media page,” he said.

While stealing somebody’s game logins may at first seem a minor problem, Ben-Itzhak said online gaming accounts are often connected to credit card details for in-game purchases.

As for what motivates these junior programmers, Ben-Itzhak said it is by the “thrill of outwitting their peers” and not “financial gain.”

As many gamers have a tendency to use the same login details for other online services, such as Facebook and Twitter, the victim also runs the risk of cyber-bullying or identity theft.

“It is also logical to assume that at least some of those responsible will be tempted to experiment with much more serious cyber-crimes,” Ben-Itzhak said.

Too cool for school

Another key finding in the report was that exploit toolkits were responsible for almost 60 per cent of all threat activity online was performed in 2012.

Ben-Itzhak said the kits are likely the result of established cyber-criminals creating and selling commercial toolkits at a premium to less technically savvy users.

One new exploit toolkit from late 2012 that is an example of this is the Cool Toolkit, which in turn bore more than a passible resemblance to the Blackhole Exploit Kit.

While the Blackhole toolkit accounted for 40 per cent of the top web threats in Q4 2012, the new one claimed 16 per cent.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags AVGsecuritymalware

More about AVG (AU/NZ)FacebookIDGIDG CommunicationsIDG CommunicationsIDG CommunicationsToolkit

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Patrick Budmar

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts