Alarm raised on teenage hackers

Alarm raised on teenage hackers
Tuesday 28 Oct 2008 [10:27]

Many online forums are populated by teenagers who are swapping credit card numbers, phishing kits and hacking tips, according to Computer security professionals.

Many young hackers are likely to get caught and arrested due to their poor technical skills.

Getting a criminal record would be putting their future at risk according to Youth workers.

Director of malware research at FaceTime Security, Chris Boyd, said: "I see kids of 11 and 12 sharing credit card details and asking for hacks,"

Mont young hackers who are now into low level crime started of looking for exploits and cracks for their favorite computer games.

There are many communities and forums springing up were people are starting to swap malicious programs, knowledge and sometimes stolen data. 

Some are already looking for exploits and virus codes that can be run against social networking sites, which are very popular with man young people. Some then try to peddle or use the details or accounts they net in this way.

Mr. Boyd said he spent a lot of time tracking down the creators of many of the nuisance programs written to exploit users of social networking sites and the culprit was often a teenager.

From such virus and nuisance programs, he said, many progress to outright criminal practices such as using phishing kits to create and run their own scams.

"Some are quite crude, some are clever and some are stupid," he said.

It is the poor technical skills that teenage hacker's attempt to make money from their life of cyber-crime becomes unstuck.

Kevin Hogan, a senior manager of Symantec Security Response said "They do not even know enough to get a simple phishing or attack tool right,"

"We have seen phishing sites that have broken images because the link, rather than reference the original webpage, is referencing a file on the C: drive that is not there," he added.

Many examples have been collected by researchers at Symantec of teenagers who have managed to cripple their own PC's by infecting them with viruses they have written.

One of the main reasons for young teenagers to start hacking is that young criminal hackers were undermined by their desire to win recognition for their exploits.

"They are obsessed with making videos of what they are doing,"

There are many posted video's on sites such as 'YouTube' were the hackers sign on with the same alias used to a hack a site, run a phishing attack or write a web exploit.

Many of the young hackers also share photo's and details of their life on sites. This makes is much easier for security experts to track them down and get them shut down.

One wannabe hacker, who was using the name 'YoGangsta50' was tracked down and shut down by Mr. Boyd's actions, was so comprehensive that it wrung a pledge from the teenager in question to never get involved in petty hi-tech crime again.

Another reformed hacker, Mathew Bevan, who was arrested as a teenager and then acquitted for his online exploits, has said it is no surprise to him that young people were indulging in online crime. 

"It's about the thrill and power to prove they are somebody," he said. That also explains why they stuck with an alias or online identity even though it was compromised, he added.

"The aim of what they are doing is to get the fame within their peer group," he said. "They spend months or years developing who they are and their status. They do not want to give that up freely."

Teenagers need to appreciate the risks they took by falling into hi-tech crime said Graham Robb, a board member of Youth Justice Board.

"If they get a criminal record it stays with them," he said. "A Criminal Record Bureau check will throw that up and it could prevent access to jobs."

A criminal record will be carried with them all their life for anyone arrested and charged for the most serious crimes.

He added that young people need to appreciate the impact of the actions which they have carried out via the net and a compute.

"Are they going to be able to live with the fact that they caused harm to other people?" he said. "They do not think there is someone losing their money or their savings from what they are doing.

"For a kid, getting a criminal record is the worst possible move."

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Mon 18 Jun 2018 04:45:39