By Alexandra Burlacu email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Feb 10, 2013 11:57 AM EST
There was a time when 11-year-olds used to ride bikes, do homework, and maybe watch some TV or play some games, nowadays they are apparently coding malware.
Times have definitely changed and kids are no longer interested in mundane joys. Instead, youngsters are reportedly more preoccupied with perfecting their coding skills and tricking fellow gamers, be they young or old, into revealing personal information.
According to AVG, an 11-year-old kid has hacked an app called "Runescape Gold Hack," which allegedly promised players free gold. Runescape is a popular massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG), and the trick drew plenty of greedy players.
Players had to select how much gold they wanted, but in order to receive the promised gold they also had to input their username and passwords for their Runescape accounts. The gold would allegedly appear on their accounts, but the app warns players to "NOT use more than once a day, as admins may become suspicious!"
In fact, the malware in question sent one's account information to a specific e-mail address. According to AVG representatives who spoke to BBC News, that address was registered to an 11-year-old child in Canada.
"Mostly kids writing malware are doing it to show off to their peers, by demonstrating 'hacking' ability. It could be stealing someone's game logins. This might seem trivial at first, but online gaming accounts are often connected to credit cards to enable in-game purchases, and these may also have virtual currency accounts amounting to hundreds of dollars," AVG Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Yuval Ben-Itzhak explained in a blog post.
"Furthermore, many gamers unfortunately use the same login details for social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, potentially putting the victim at risk of cyber-bullying, in addition to identity theft and major inconvenience," added the CTO.
On the other hand, while kids may be skilled enough to create malware, they have plenty to learn about protecting themselves. As the BBC points out, researchers found enough identifying details in the hacked app's source code to discover the identity of the 11-year-old responsible for the malware. In fact, researchers not only tracked down the kid's current town, but they even found that the child's parents had just bought him a new iPhone.
AVG made the discovery after examining the piece of code masquerading as a cheat tool for getting free gold. A more experienced VXer, however, would not have slipped up on personally identifiable information. The 11-year-old's own source code ratted him out, and AVG said this was not the first time it has found kids behind malicious codes.
"We believe these junior programmers are motivated mainly by the thrill of outwitting their peers, rather than financial gain, but it is nevertheless a disturbing and increasing trend. It is also logical to assume that at least some of those responsible will be tempted to experiment with much more serious cyber-crimes," added Ben-Itzhak.
Truth be told, kids nowadays work their way around digital devices far sooner than previous generations. They grow up surrounded by all kinds of technology,and in many instances, their curiosity and ability to learn turns them into real tech wizards; however, sometimes, they push it too far.
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