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Hacking is the new 'cool' for UK teenagers

In response to Safer Internet Day 2016, Kaspersky Lab has released research showing that just over one in ten - or 12 per cent - of 16 to 19 year olds in the UK know someone who has engaged in a cyber- activity that could be deemed illegal.

In addition, Kaspersky Lab found that a third of its respondents would be impressed if a friend hacked a bank’s website and replaced the homepage with a cartoon, while one in ten would be impressed if a friend hacked the air traffic control systems of a local airport.

While the trait of being rebellious in teenagers in the context of the digital access is nothing new, the research highlights how the youth are now involving themselves in the far more serious threats and dangers in terms of cybercrime.

As a matter of fact, stealing data, such as identity or financial credentials online, is seen as the most serious on a list of criminal activities, at 65 per cent; while breaking and entering was second place, at 54 per cent.

“Cyber-crimes have become glamorised in society and represent an attack on the ‘system’ and allow individuals to express their teenage angst, in which they struggle to identify their place within society, and to achieve the kind of social validation and attention that many teenagers seek,” Dr Dimitrios Tsivrikos, Consumer and Business Psychologist at University College London said.

Kaspersky Lab principal security researcher David Emm further said that “specialist browsers required to gain access are freely available online and discussion groups used by cybercriminals are often open to outsiders. Young people exploring, experimenting or taking their first steps towards making some easy money online can all too easily end up here in search of tools and advice. Once in, they are vulnerable to exploitation for more complex schemes, perhaps being drawn into a fraudulent activity by playing the role of a money mule, or being asked to create a malicious program. It’s far harder to get out than it is to get in.”

The National Crime Agency also recently launched a campaign specifically aimed at preventing young people from becoming involved in cyber-crime.

The research was made through a survey conducted by Arlington Research on behalf of Kaspersky Lab, wherein 1,556 respondents between 16-19 years old participated.

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Benoit Daoust