What are parents worried about?

by Black Hat Middle East and Africa
What are parents worried about?

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This week we’re focused on…

The cyber threats that parents are worried about. 


When we interviewed Heba Farahat (Senior Cybersecurity Consultant at Liquid C2), she said she’s been actively involved in delivering talks and training on cybersecurity to diverse audiences – including “assisting parents in navigating the cyber threats faced by their children.” 

Protecting younger generations from the risks of malicious actors online is critical – and very difficult – work; and something that the entire cybersecurity community needs to engage with. 

The risks to children are often different from those faced by adults. There’s an economic difference, with children less likely to have access to financial resources for attackers to target – so threats against them may come with other motivations. And children are more vulnerable to emotional and psychological harm; which means negative experiences online have the potential to cause lifelong damage.

What are the cyber threats that parents are most concerned about? 

Research by Kaspersky back in 2019 found that 84% of surveyed parents were worried about their children’s safety online. From the parents’ perspective, the most dangerous threats were:

  • Children seeing harmful content (27%)
  • Children experiencing internet addiction (26%)
  • Receiving anonymous messages or content inciting them to engage in inappropriate activity (14%)

Updated research from Kaspersky in 2024 identifies AI threats as a growing concern; with one UN study finding that around 80% of young people claim they interact with AI multiple times each day. 

Threats to children on interactive gaming platforms are also a growing concern, due to a rise in social engineering attacks taking place via in-game chats. 

Fintech is an emerging threat to children’s safety, too. A growing number of banks are launching products and services specifically for children, including children’s bank cards. And this means that children may be at increased risk of financially motivated attacks, where scammers can create fake in-app purchases to gather payment card details. 

And smart home devices also pose a threat to security that’s often overlooked by families. A vulnerability study on a popular smart pet feeder, for example, revealed several vulnerabilities that could enable attackers to gain access to the device and steal video footage; turning a seemingly innocuous pet feeder into a malicious surveillance tool. 

Parents can’t control everything – so cybersecurity awareness must be available to children

This year, there’s been a rise in parents uniting against smartphones for children, particularly in the UK and the US. Without government restrictions on the age at which a child can own and use a smartphone, parents are opting to band together and agree they won’t let their own children have smart devices until they’re much older. The hope is that if everyone does it, there will be less social pressure driving young people to want smart tech at a young age. 

Parents also rely on parental control tools on devices and across digital platforms to restrict the content their children can access. However, children quickly learn how to bypass parental controls.

So education is essential. Age-appropriate, straightforward, honest awareness programs to help young people learn about the risks that exist online and how they can stay safe need to be rolled out – not just by schools, but by the global cybersecurity community.

Tell us what you think

What are the best strategies for reaching young people with reliable, engaging, and relevant cybersecurity awareness skills? Open this newsletter on LinkedIn and share your perspective in the comment section.

Do you have an idea for a topic you'd like us to cover? We're eager to hear it! Drop us a message and share your thoughts. Our next newsletter is scheduled for 26 June 2024.

Catch you next week,
Steve Durning
Exhibition Director

Join us at Black Hat MEA 2024 to grow your network, expand your knowledge, and build your business.

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