A very good friend of mine has a teenaged son who happens to be an incredibly skilled hacker. The audacity of what he has pulled off in the past is truly staggering. Do you really know what your children are capable of?
In this guest post, Richard Jones of the National Crime Agency’s Cyber Crime Unit talks about the #Cyberchoices campaign. This is a campaign designed to influence parents and teens. The aim is to persuade youngsters to use their tech skills positively.
The NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit re-launched its #cyberchoices campaign following an operation which targeted users of DDoS attack tools (software that floods sites with data leaving them inaccessible to users) . The operation highlighted that many users were young people. We unfortunately find that more and more young people are getting involved in cyber crime. During the operation youngsters were informed of the consequences of committing cyber crime and the positive career pathways available to them in the cyber industry.
Recent research commissioned by the NCA indicated that many young people and their parents are not aware of what constitutes a cyber crime or the consequences of engaging in it.
The #cyberchoices campaign seeks to discourage teenagers aged 12-15 from getting involved in cyber crime by educating parents on illegal online activity, the law, the consequences of committing cyber crime and emphasising positive ways young people can lawfully explore their skills and interests in coding and computing.
We at the NCA know that simply criminalising young people cannot be the solution to tackling cyber crime and so the campaign seeks to help motivate children to use their cyber skills more positively.
The campaign is directed at parents, because we know from research that they often are unaware of what their children are doing online. These individuals are extremely talented and have real potential to go on to exciting and fulfilling jobs. But by choosing the criminal path they can move from low level online ‘pranking’ to higher level cyber crime quite quickly, sometimes without even considering that what they’re doing is against the law.
It’s really important for parents to understand that if their child gets involved in cyber crime this can lead to a criminal record, limitation on future career prospects and can put restrictions on their daily lives including the loss of access to the internet.
Watch our #cyberchoices campaign video and listen to Solomon’s story where he talks about going from cyber crime to cyber security. He changed his path for the better by using his cyber skills more positively and now runs a successful cyber security business.
We’d like to encourage parents to take an interest in their child’s online activities, to talk to them about their skills in technology, and to help them explore what are potentially lucrative and rewarding career opportunities in the cyber industry.
You can find advice and resources on how to start this conversation with your child and learn more about the Computer Misuse Act and possible motivations behind young people getting involved in cyber crime on our NCCU prevent page.
Find out more about the latest NCA Operation targeting users of DDoS software.