Children are latest cyberthreat warns security firm

Antivirus firm Sophos investigates the dangers of malicious computer use in Britain's schools

Computer security company Sophos believes that schoolchildren could represent a growing threat to other computer users because of lack of awareness about the dangers posed by computer viruses.

The antivirus vendor is carrying out a study into the dangers of computer viruses and malicious computer use within schools in the UK and says it may visit educational institutions in order to spread awareness about risks and teach responsible computer use. With more and more schools getting online Sophos is concerned that children may learn bad habits at a young age.

"Our concern is that people are being given computers without being taught the ethics of computers," says Graham Cluley, senior technologist at Sophos.

According to Sophos, children could be capable of dangerous behaviour themselves -- such as sending a friend a computer virus as a prank -- and vulnerable to computer risks. "Ethically they are not as grown up as other users. They are both potential victims and aggressors," says Cluley. "Imagine how easy it is to commit a crime on a computer when you never see the victim. It's like a computer game in that way."

The British government recently claimed to have had great success in getting more computers into schools and more pupils onto to the Internet.

Although previous studies have looked at the dangers posed to children by inappropriate content on the Internet and malicious Internet users, this is the first UK study to examine how children can be a threat to other Internet users.

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