Teenagers need “very little skill” to become cybercriminals, according to a new report
The multitude of hacking tools and video tutorials available on the Internet makes it easier for young people to get involved in illegal activities.
Research from the National Crime Agency (NCA) notes that the reason why it is so easy for young people to become involved in cyber crime is that free “off-the-shelf” hacking tools, online tutorials and video guides exist.
According to the report, many young hackers are motivated by a “sense of accomplishment” and building a reputation rather than gaining money. According to the Independent, the average age of the young cybercriminals involved in the study was 17. The NCA says that the possibility of them committing more traditional crimes, such as theft, fraud and sexual offences, is small.
“Very little skill is needed to begin criminal activity online,” reads the NCA study. “With tools such as booters and Remote Access Trojan (RAT) users can make a small payment (or often no payment) and begin breaking the law.” It also states that the majority of young people pulled in cyber crime tend to join criminal hacking forums after participating in gaming cheat websites.
“The hacking community (based largely around forums) is highly social,” says the NCA. “Whether it is idolizing a senior forum member or gaining respect and reputation from other users for sharing knowledge gained, offenders thrive on their online relationships.”
Cybercriminals get to feel valuable when they show off their capabilities to a wider group, without thinking twice about law enforcement and potential repercussions.
“Illegal activities are discussed openly on many open forums,” says the report.
“The law and its consequences are rarely discussed and if the topic is raised it is generally dismissed. Debrief subjects have stated that they did not consider law enforcement until someone they knew (or had heard of) was arrested.”
Young people might be steered away from cyber crime if they have positive role models, mentors and possibilities to use their skills for a good purpose, as NCA believes: “That can be as simple as highlighting opportunities in coding and programming, or jobs in the gaming and cyber industries, which still give them the sense of accomplishment and respect they are seeking.”