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Home Office flags game modification as cybercrime sign

Those who tinker with video games could turn out as hackers, says report.

By Jimmy Nicholls

Gamers experimenting with modifications to video games are being flagged by the Home Office as potential cybercriminals, a report released on Tuesday reveals.

The document attempts to highlight signs that a person is at risk of becoming involved in serious organised crime, with technological skills now considered an important factor.

"Some individuals have specialist knowledge and skills in IT and communications which can enable them to commit serious offences," the Home Office report said.

"Early behaviours could include modifications to games or software and sharing online. Recent evidence suggests that the number of frauds committed by young adults are increasing.

Tampering with video game code to extend or alter the playing experience is a popular hobby among gamers, with many games having large communities built around building and playing such "mods".

Changes to games can range from minor to comprehensive, with some modders being well versed in programming, which may have utility in cybercrime, as well as other unapplicable skills such the use of 3D modelling tools.

"Cybercriminals will likely have had some formal IT training, with computer graduates being lured into cybercrime," the report added. "Although some will have learned the skills themselves or through online communities."

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Hacker communities often bear a resemblance to gaming communities, often being frequented by young men whose conversations can be puerile and profane in equal measure.

Such platforms often allow would-be hackers to swap tips on vulnerabilities and attack methods, as well as sell each other software that automates certain aspects of cybercrime.

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