Fortnite: Why Kids Love It and What Parents Need to Know

Fortnite: Battle Royale

 

Fortnite: Battle Royale is the hottest video game for kids right now. More than 125 million people have downloaded the game and it’s estimated that 3.4 million play it monthly. But while the last-man-standing battle game is a blast to play, it also has parents asking a lot of questions as their kids spend more and more time immersed in the Fortnite realm.

Why kids love it

A few hours on Fortnite and you can easily see why kids (and adults) love it. The game drops up to 100 players onto an island, where they try to find weapons to defend themselves and try to eliminate other players. The battlefield gradually shrinks, forcing players into encounters with each other until just one player remains and becomes the winner.

Even though it’s a battle, the Fortnite characters and interface are colorful and cartoon-like and there’s no blood or gore. The game itself possesses an inherent sense of humor and personality that’s lighthearted yet still competitive. The app is free to download, but players can outfit their characters (for purchase) in an array of battle fashions and any number of fun dances.

Ultimate gaming mash-up

Fortnite: Battle Royale

One reason kids love Fortnite: Battle Royale is that it’s the perfect survival mash-up of several popular media titles: The Hunger Games movie, Call of Duty video game, the first Fortnite (Fortnite: Save the World) video game, and the game PUBG (PlayerUnknownBattlegrounds). Fortnite: Battle Royale takes elements from all of these favorite storylines and game interfaces.

The game has a lot of fun attached for sure. Fortnite’s interface and hilarious character moves can be just as much fun to watch as it is to play. However, as with any other wildly popular, multi-player video game, there are some red flags families need to be aware of.

Fortnite: What to look out for

Excessive screen time. Because of the way Fortnite is structured, kids can easily burn through hours a day if left unmonitored. Some parents have reported their kids becoming Fortnite obsessed, even addictedSuggestion: Pay attention to the amount of time your kids spend playing. If your child is playing on Xbox, PlayStation, or Switch, you can turn on parental controls to limit gaming sessions. Another option, for PC, tablets, and mobile devices, is monitoring software that allows parents to set time limits for apps and websites.Fortnite: Battle Royale

Chat feature. Fortnite is a multi-player game, which means kids play against other gamers they may not know. So, Fortnite’s chat feature carries some potential safety issues such as foul language, potentially befriending an imposter, and cyberbullying. Suggestion: Talk to your child about this aspect of the game and the dangers. Spend time and sit in on a few games and listen to the banter. Then, make the best decision for your family. To turn chat off, open the Settings Menu in the top right of the main Fortnite page, go to the Audio Tab and turn it off.

In-app purchases. Fortnite is free to download but can get expensive quickly. Kids can use virtual currency (purchased via credit card) to access animations, weapons, and outfits for their characters. These items aren’t needed to win the game, but they allow a player to express his or her personality within the game, which is especially important to kids. Some parents have reported finding hundreds of dollars in unauthorized purchases on their credit cards due to Fortnite’s array of in-app purchases. Suggestion: If you know your child is passionate about Fortnite, take away the spending temptation by blocking his or her ability to make in-app purchases. Or, set a weekly limit on purchases.

Fortnite: Battle Royale

Increased anxiety/stress levels. Fortnite’s game structure is a highly-competitive, fast-moving game that renders only one winner. This means, as a solo player, the odds are stacked against you. Play Fortnite enough, and lose enough, and rage can surface. If your child is prone to anxiety or stress, Fortnite may not be the best environment. Suggestion: Monitor your child’s mood. Discuss the emotional highs and lows potentially associated with Fortnite and put some healthy parameters — that address both the types of content and time limits — around gaming habits.

Unsure about allowing your kids to play (or continue playing) Fortnite? Talk to them about it. Join in or watch your child play. Find out what your child loves about the game and if his or her demeanor changes during or after playing. Monitor the amount of time as well. Once you’ve gathered the facts as they pertain to your child, decide how much (or how little) of the Fortnite world is best for your family.

Want to connect more to digital topics that affect your family? Stop by ProtectWhatMatters.online. Also, join the digital security conversation on Facebook.

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

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3 Lies Parents Tell Themselves That Can Put Their Kids at Risk

shutterstock_284183372Trying to keep up with your kids online feels a bit like patching holes in a sinking boat at times doesn’t it?

A recent Intel Security study reveals a gap in what parents perceive kids to be doing online, and what’s actually taking place in behaviors such as cyberbullying, creating aliases, and the amount of time spent online. The study, “The Realities of Cyber Parenting: What Pre-teens and Teens Are Up To Online,” examines the online behaviors and social networking habits of American pre-teens and teens ages 8 to 16 years old.

But rather than get overwhelmed or discouraged when we hear the latest stats, we can use this new information to restart reality—and refuse to let denial run the show.

Here are 3 common lies parents tell themselves and some realities to help you recalibrate your thinking.

1. I can trust my kids online. This is a favorite, bliss-painted lie parents tell themselves. While it may be true that you can trust your kids in general, the online world poses temptations and threats that even the savviest parent—and the most trustworthy teen—can’t begin to anticipate. Predators, scammers, and bullies are part of life and only amplify their tactics in the online arena. Social networks, texting, and now live streaming apps have transformed parenting priorities and establishing a new kind of trust.

Another reality check: Kids’ brains are not fully formed until they are about 21 years old. So even the most predictable kids can and will make surprising decisions.

Truth: Yes, trust your kids in general but don’t trust the Internet. Take the same precautions you would take if you let your kids hang out in a big city. Educate them. Coach them. Know their favorite digital hangouts and guide them along the way just as you would if you were teaching them how to drive.

Talk candidly and openly about relevant digital issues. Keep up on technology, slang, and trends as they affect your kids. Find common ground and communicate often. Don’t wait for your kids to tell you, stay informed about popular technology and ask your kids if they are using risky apps.shutterstock_165358493

2. Been there, done that. We’ve had the online safety talk already. This lie is one that is not only naïve, it’s dangerous. While you may have reviewed the basics of online safety, it’s not enough. Technology moves too quickly, new temptations arise, and simply put—kids forget the basics all the time (like brushing their teeth or taking out the trash)—so they need a parent’s guidance as part of everyday conversation.

Truth: Talking about online safely with kids and teens is pretty much like making them eat their vegetables. You can bet if you weren’t around they’d likely be eating Captain Crunch! Internet safety is a topic you need to visit often. Keep the conversation lighthearted but real when it comes to the potential dangers online. This game plan is a great place to start.

3. My kids understand this tech stuff better than I do—they will be fine. Many parents feel disconnected and out of touch with their digital children; so much so, they throw their hands up and simply hope for the best. But having tech skills does not equate to having tech wisdom, which is where you, parent, come in. 

Truth: Yes, your child’s online life is a lot to keep up with but making a hero’s effort to stay informed is far better than sticking your head in the sand. Your kids need you now more than ever. Be aware of your kid’s digital paths—where they go and with whom they converse. Pour into them the integrity and awareness it takes to become a strong—and savvy—digital citizen.

You are right. Technology is moving too fast. You spend hours a week keeping up with, monitoring, and guiding your kids in the digital realm. However, by staying involved, you can prepare them for making the best digital decisions as they mature in this vast digital space.

What’s your biggest challenge as a parent of a digital tween or teen? Do you believe you are in touch with your child’s online life?

 

ToniTwitterHS

 

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @IntelSec_Family. (Disclosures).

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Malware Spreads Through Facebook Tag Scam

Intel security has recently observed a malware spreading through Facebook. This type of malware is not new, but it keeps evolving using new spreading mechanisms.

A few days ago, we came across a Facebook post with this subject:

[Username] shared a link – with [Another username] and 19 others

The link was disguised as a pornographic video to entice viewers. We have found that a number of people are infected by this malware.

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This malware uses the following script to get the user id and Facebook DTSG value:

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The fb_dtsg is a request identifier that is unique to each Facebook request. It is also known as a cross-site request forgery (CSRF) token. (A CSRF is a type of malicious exploit of a website in which unauthorized commands are transmitted from a user that the website trusts. You can read more about CSRF here).

The following malware code randomly selects friends to tag:

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The following script selects a random porn image from its control server and displays it to the user:

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This scam lures curious Facebook users to the compromised website, which then attempts to trick them into installing malicious browser extensions and other malware to view the adult video. When users visit the link to view the video, the malware prompts them to download a fake Adobe Flash Player update, which in turn downloads the executable servant.exe on the victims’ machines in the %appdata% folder and executes it.

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We can see the actual payload, downloaded from hxxp://exusers.com, in the network traffic shown below. Facebook is already aware of this malicious domain and is working out with their antimalware partners to detect this malware.

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The downloaded payload creates a run registry entry to execute itself every time Windows starts.

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The payload also creates the following files on a victim’s machine:

  • c:documents and settingsadministratorapplication datamicrosoftprotectS-1-5-21-117609710-1801674531-725345543-500preferred
  • c:documents and settingsadministratorapplication datamicrosoftprotects-1-5-21-1844237615-2111687655-839522115-5004532158e-ef11-42f9-813c-ddbb4f02c848

This behavior gives the malware author backdoor access to the system.

After successful installation and delivery, the malware modifies victims’ browsers to keep the malware updated and to block users from accessing certain security websites. The malicious browser extension blocks URLs that include any of the following keywords:

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While browsing these, victims may see the following error message:

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This malware is different from other social media malware in some techniques. Previously this type of malware spread through victims’ chat windows and infected victims’ friends. Once victims’ friends are infected, the malware could go one step further and infect the friends of the initial victims’ friends. The following screen shows how the malware was propagated through chat messages:

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With this new technique, the malware gains more visibility with potential victims as it tags 20 friends of each victim in the malicious post instead of sending personal chat requests. In this case, the tag may be seen by friends of the victim’s friends as well, which leads to a larger number of potential victims. Thus the malware propagates more quickly.

In addition to keeping antimalware protection up to date, users should practice safe browsing techniques, such as avoiding unfamiliar links that redirect outside of Facebook, even if those links are shared by a trusted friend.

Intel security detects this malware as BackDoor-FBUS starting with DAT Version 7781.

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