Surprise! Virus Spreads Through Kids Online Games

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As hackers and technology get more advanced, we have to be even more vigilant. In an age of ever-advancing technologies, it's even more important to be informed of today's cyber related threats. If you think you know just how important it is to keep an eye on what your children are doing when they're online ---think again. Unfortunately, it seems that hackers and malware creators have started targeting children in an attempt to get dangerous software installed on their parents' computers without anyone being the wiser. This was revealed in a recent study by the Avast Virus Labs.

While you may be vigilant when it comes to monitoring who your child talks to online, the hackers who are targeting your children have no interest in talking to them.  Instead they create entertaining Flash games like the kind your child may already play, often including well-known characters from other video games and cartoons to make the game more appealing.  As your child plays the game, there will eventually be a button or other clickable object that they're asked to click; when they do, the game will download malware or a virus onto your computer.

Depending on the specific virus or malware program installed on your computer you may begin experiencing frequent pop-up ads, might have trouble navigating due to your Internet browsers getting redirected to a search engine that the hacker gets paid for when people use it, or you might end up getting alerts from fake antivirus software trying to get you to buy the "full" version of the program.  Some hackers even use key logging programs that transmit lists of your keystrokes back to the hacker who created the program... this can allow the hacker to learn your passwords to social media sites, online email accounts and even online banking websites.

As anybody who has ever had a computer virus infection will attest, once a virus or malware is installed on your computer it can be pretty difficult to eradicate completely.  Some people even have to completely reinstall their operating systems, either because of the severity of the infection or because they have a particularly destructive virus that damages and corrupts vital OS files.  Provided that the malware or virus file was installed silently, you won't even know that the infection started with your child's online games and could run the risk of re-infection at a later date.

The key to defeating this threat, of course, is proper awareness --and security.

Be an active parent.

Explain to your child why he or she should only play games on sites that you know are trustworthy, and encourage your child to ask you to check out any new website that he or she wants to visit.  Install monitoring software to keep an eye on where your children are going and to block potentially malicious game websites.

The technology used today, is far more sophisticated than what was used in the past. Keep your operating system, antivirus and antimalware software updated as well since this will help you to stay safe in the event of an unwanted infection.

According to a recent study published in the journal Deviant Behavior, authored by Associate Professors Thomas Holt and Michael Turner, consumers should take a layered approach when protecting their computers from infections. The study reveals the best protection involves using a combination of antivirus, anti-spyware, and anti-adware software, each of which offers different functions. Antivirus software detects and removes malicious software programs such as viruses and worms that corrupt your computer delete data and spread to other computers. Anti-spyware and anti-adware programs are designed to protect against software that both self-installs and then gathers information on your computer, all without your knowledge.

Knowledge, as the saying goes, is power. Trouble is: the proper knowledge isn't always easy to come by, especially when it involves technology.

We are only equipped to make good choices when we have good information. Today, the Internet provides a wealth of information, but most of us know, finding trustworthy information on the web  means first wading through mounds of propaganda and ads aimed at influencing our minds and choices. When seeking expert advice, seek out the experts, because as another saying goes, when we know better -we can do better. They know better than most -we just need to figure out who they are! 

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