A life of hacking and cyber crime could be awaiting children who are exposed to easily accessible free tools, and the pathway begins with playing popular games.
The inquisitive and often formidable minds of children are no longer satisfied with playing a game within the parameters set out by the developers.
Many are joining the growing trend of making modifications, and seeing where the loop holes are, the foundation for a hacker’s thought process.
Concerns in this area have been raised significantly; culminating in the report released by The National Crime Agency (NCA), the publication is titled ‘Pathways Into Cyber Crime’.
The report says: “Offenders begin to participate in gaming cheat websites and ‘modding’ (game modification) forums and progress to criminal hacking forums without considering consequences.”
In my own experience I can remember friends at school eager to join together in a group within the game, and innocently push at the boundaries. Although only trying to climb out of the map, or perform a trick, the terms used were foreboding: ‘did you see the new hack we found at the weekend?’
The report presents some initial findings, it says: “A number of UK teenagers who we assess as unlikely to be involved in traditional crime are becoming involved in cyber crime.”
This finding from the report represents the widening pool of young people that the police must now focus on. In addition to the traditional young offender, young people who would not cross the real world crime threshold, but would commit detached cyber crime, must now be factored in.
Detailing some possible solutions, the report says: “Positive opportunities, role models, mentors can deter young people away from cyber crime.”
The skills shortage in tech areas could be a target area for law enforcement services and mentors to implement positive opportunities for those that could be inclined to commit cyber crime. The skills and attributes possessed by someone capable of hacking are highly desirable and in need.
Young people in this category could be encouraged to use their inquisitive nature, tech skills and desire for a challenge to become cyber defenders, pitching their wits against those who would seek to act upon malicious cyber intent.