A recent report from the National Crime Agency (NCA) has detailed the “pathways” being explored by young people, resulting in criminal activity. The report details the increasing number of younger people getting involved with game-cheat websites or forums that talked about ways to change or ‘mod’ games.
The internet is creating a new type of criminal. People who wouldn’t consider committing a crime in the ‘real’ world are becoming online criminals. Stealing people’s data, vandalising company websites, disrupting and taking down servers is becoming all too common, causing real damage to many victims.
The line between real life and the online world seems to be blurred, especially with regards to the law. The average age of those interviewed after arrest was just 17 years old, with the youngest aged just 12, substantially lower than ‘street crimes’ such as drug related offences (37) or financial crimes (39). Factors listed as ‘defining the pathway’ include: low barriers to entry thanks to the wide availability of easy-to-use hacking tools, easy access to illegal programs, a low risk of being caught and a perception that hacking was a victimless crime.
In a society crying out for young people with advanced IT skills, the internet is creating a further problem for many online organisations. Those with skill or interest in the IT sector need to be refocused and shown how their curiosity can be channelled into something much more positive. The NCA have suggested that mentors, role models and positive opportunities could deter people from committing cyber-crime. Whether it be after school activity, work-experience, apprenticeships or further education, the world of cyber is growing and in constant need of fresh talent to tackle the increasing threats.