The National Crime Agency (NCA)—essentially the UK’s version of the FBI—has revealed that over the past year the average age of a cyber crime suspect was just 17. In 2014, the average age was much higher: 24.
In an earlier operation targeting the users of the Lizard Stresser DDoS tool, all seven people arrested were under 18. Another crackdown, aimed at people using the Blackshades Remote Access Trojan (RAT) led the NCA to arrest 22 people of the average age of 18, with the youngest one being only 12 years old.
Fighting the problem of the growing number of teenage hackers, the agency has launched a multi-channel #CyberChoices campaign aimed at properly scaring the youngsters who could consider engaging in criminal activities online.
The campaign includes a number of resources for parents, kids, and teachers on the NCA website, as well as a video ad that is being shown in UK movie theatres with the punchline “cyber crime wrecks lives.”
In addition to guiding the parents and teenagers from the screen, NCA has been doing house calls as well. Its eight-strong “Prevent team” made 150 visits to the kids on the “periphery of cybercrime” in 2015, Bloomberg reports.
The visits paid by the NCA often go no further than talking to the youngsters, explaining that the consequence of committing an online criminal offence can be just as serious as normal, physical crimes.
“Over the past few years the NCA has seen the people engaging in cyber crime becoming younger and younger. We know that simply criminalising young people cannot be the solution to this and so the campaign seeks to help motivate children to use their skills more positively,” Richard Jones, head of the Prevent team said in a press statement. “We want these young people, and their parents, to understand that choosing that path can result in a criminal record, can limit their choices for their future, and can put restrictions on their daily lives including the loss of access to the internet.”
Back in October, Scotland Yard arrested and subsequently released on bail a 15-year-old boy in connection to the major cyberattack on the website of TalkTalk, a UK telecom provider. Over the course of the investigation, five teens were arrested in the UK in connection with the attack, which is estimated to cost the company £35 million.
SOURCE: Andrii Degeler | Ars Technica