Hackers Target Popular Children’s Website Neopets

A popular children's website, Neopets, has come under attack by online thieves, according to Christopher Boyd, Director of FaceTime Communications Inc., an Internet security firm based in California, as reported by Hackinthebox on July 11, 2009.

The site is another "adopt a cyber-pet" platform where children can chat or play games. Although kids here can play without paying any charge, an option for pay-to-play has caused concern among parents about possible identity theft.

However, the chief trouble at present is messages transmitted through the bulletin boards on Neopets, presenting children an opportunity to have a 'magic paintbrush' with which they could color their pets on the site in different shades.

Normally, children are required to purchase them through their Neopoints, the points they have accumulated through the sale of items or game play on Neopets. However, offers that allow them to get the Neopoints free are enticing children to follow a web-link that take them to a "secret" site. On clicking this link, malware gets installed on computers and malicious activities begin.

The scam exploits children's willingness to do anything to obtain a unique paintbrush, the uncommon and valuable item that allows them to make their pets look different.

The kids don't get the expected paintbrush instead a malware is installed in the system that begins to cause chaos with their parents' secret financial details.

In general, the purpose is to get kids' parents to do Internet banking by using children as a medium to reach them, state security analysts. While websites for social-networking delineate conditions for the prevention of such activities and publicly alert visitors about probable dangers of intrusion, it is truly the responsibility of the user or her or his parents to remain on guard from vicious e-mails and pop-ups.

Encouragingly, the widely-used Neopets is well known for being kid-safe and kid-friendly. The site whose owner is Viacom, the media major, has about 25 Million members of which 50% are aged between 8 and 12, while some are even younger aged 6.

Related article: Hackers Redirect Windows Live Search to Malicious Sites

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