Children and Cybercrime in the Time of COVID-19: Arkose Labs Survey Reveals New Findings

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95% of children surveyed are spending more time online, making fraud prevention essential

Arkose Labs, provider of online fraud and abuse prevention technology, released their global study entitled “How to Get Kids Cyber-Savvy and Make a Safer Internet For All” that examines the online habits and cybersecurity knowledge of 84 children ages 6 through 16 spanning the globe. The children offered their insights on a range of issues related to online security, fraud and the sharing of personal data.

With the coronavirus pandemic resulting in a spike of time spent online for both school and downtime, increased exposure to the digital world revealed a heightened risk of cyber threats for children. Even though today’s youth are IT-savvy, cyber criminals are counting on kids’ naivete about sharing private information for a host of criminal activities.

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“Although children are aware of some scams and dangers plaguing the internet, they often don’t know the true depth and breadth of fraud online,” said Kevin Gosschalk, CEO of Arkose Labs.  “It is necessary for everyone—parents, teachers, schools, society, governments and businesses—to come together and make the online experience for children safe.”

Gosschalk added, “We learned quite a bit from talking to the children, and their knowledge about and perceptions of cyber security are invaluable as we work together to navigate the new normal.”

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Highlights from the study include:

  • Personal data: Many children know that sharing personal information on the internet, especially related to payment (94%) and social security numbers (93%), can be dangerous. 44% of the children polled affirmed that they were careful when sharing any information online. However, sharing login credentials among friends for something like streaming services is still commonplace.
  • Hacking: 7% admitted to getting hacked, 81% said they were not hacked, while 12% were not sure.
  • Online fraud: When asked specifically about the definition of online fraud, children were clear that it involved stealing personal details for impersonation and financial scams. They know that cyber criminals try to steal passwords or trick them into paying money.
  • Identity theft: Children are generally aware of what identity theft means. They explained it as cyber criminals stealing user information and pretending to be someone else in order to get money.

To complement the study, Arkose Labs talked to some of the children on Zoom to hear more of their thoughts.

Additionally, a separate study recently conducted by kidtech platform SuperAwesome focused on parents and revealed that 96% would like to see more parental controls in the games and services their kids use. Meanwhile, 72% said they have recommended a game or digital service to another parent because they felt it offered a safe online experience.

“The ubiquity of the internet has created the opportunity for children to go online and surf the web in droves,” said James Wu, Principal at M12, Microsoft’s venture fund, which led Arkose Labs’ $22 million series B funding in March. “As we live in the new privacy zeitgeist, it’s important to safeguard our children’s privacy and protect them from fraudsters and cyber bullies. That’s why we believe in the mission of Arkose Labs and SuperAwesome, which is to make the internet a safer place for children.”

“It’s never been more important for kids to safely engage online,” said Dylan Collins, CEO of SuperAwesome, whose platform is used by hundreds of companies to enable safe digital engagement for children.  “Creating safer environments for kids will ultimately lead to more engaged and loyal customers, and improve the bottom line for businesses.”

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For their part, businesses are coming forward to shoulder the responsibility of making the internet safer for children.

“Ultimately, businesses are responsible for protecting users, and they need to be aware of the dangers to all their customers, especially the most vulnerable ones,” said Gosschalk. “Arkose Labs plays a vital role in these efforts, as we work with many of the most popular digital platforms to keep them safe from fraud and abuse.”

The Arkose Labs platform is the industry leader in detecting and stopping automated new account creation, which is often used to then launch spam and phishing messages. Using a variety of data points and device heuristics analyzed in real time, they accurately detect malicious human traffic and feed them increasingly complex authentication challenges, to the point where they give up and attack another site.

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