11-Year-Old Children Are Writing Malware, AVG Says

A perfect example is a RuneScape Trojan that's designed to steal login credentials

By on February 8th, 2013 15:24 GMT

When we think about individuals who write malicious code we most often think that they’re adults. However, according to security solutions provider AVG Technologies, even children as young as 11 years old are capable of writing malware.

In most cases, youths start writing malware to show off their skills to their friends. While their creations might not seem a big deal, especially since they’re usually not driven by profit, experts warn that they might be tempted to experiment with more serious cybercrimes when they grow up.

“We have found examples of young children writing malware, including an 11-year-old from Canada. The code usually takes the form of a basic Trojan written using the .NET framework, which is easy to learn for beginners and simple to deploy via a link in an email or posted on a social media page,” Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CTO at AVG Technologies, explained.

AVG’s latest threat report provides an example of a malicious application developed by a youth. It’s a RuneScape Gold hack that attempts to convince victims that they can add as much gold as they want to their accounts if they enter their usernames and passwords.

“Should we be surprised that young children are writing malware? Probably not. Kids are getting far more sophisticated in their technical development, particularly as most schools and homes now have PCs with internet connections,” Ben-Itzhak noted.

In many cases, children are more tech savvy than their parents. However, experts warn that parents shouldn’t turn a blind eye to what their kids are doing on their computers.

On the other hand, Ben-Itzhak points to a TED presentation made by Mitch Resnick about the benefits of teaching youths how to program. Here is the presentation in question:

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