Hacking and Cracking Teenagers – Real, or a Teenage Fantasy?

image Do teenage hackers constitute a threat to your security on the Internet? Until now, hard statistics were difficult to come by.

However, in a recently released Panda Security survey, which studied the Internet habits of adolescents between 15 and 18 years olds, we may have seen a least a partial answer.

Some of the statistics generated by the survey included the following:

More than 50% of those surveyed between 15 and 18 years old, use the Internet daily

Average weekly On-line connection time 18.5 hours

On-line studying activity accounted for 32% of this time

The remaining time involved leisure activities, such as playing games online, watching videos, listening to music, chatting, etc.

These statistics seem real and not unexpected, based on my own experience. But additional statistics generated by the same survey, may be cause for concern.

Two thirds of the survey participants stated they had, at least once, attempted to hack a friend’s instant messaging, or social network account.

Perhaps more serious, given the state of child pornography laws, which allow for the prosecution of even teenagers who post their own personal compromising photos online, 20% of participants stated they had sent compromising photos of friends over the Internet, or published them on the Web, without prior consent.

As an Internet Security Blogger, the following statistic was particularly concerning – According to Panda “17% of adolescent users claim to have advanced technical knowledge, and are able to find hacking tools on the Internet. Of these, 30% claim to have used them on at least one occasion. When asked why, 86% said that curiosity had led them to investigate these public tools”.


I can tell you, based on reader responses to several articles I have written on so called “Kiddie Scripts”, and the background research for those articles, the tools referred to by these young people are readily available on the Internet.

I suspect that the typical Internet users would be outraged to see how readily available these free, and in many cases sophisticated, hacking tools really are.

The final statistic from Panda’s survey that interested me was the following, spoken to by Luis Corrons, Technical Director of PandaLabs.

“Even though the percentage is very low, we still come across too many cases of adolescent cyber-criminals, such as the recent high-profile case of the 17-year-old creator of worms for Twitter.

We estimate that just 0.5% of these are detected by the corresponding authorities. Those who are drawn into hacking out of curiosity may well end up discovering the financial potential of this activity, and becoming criminals themselves.”

So, is this type of teenage behavior a real threat, or just fanciful teenage thinking? I’ll leave it for you to decide.


Filed under Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Personal Perspective, Safe Surfing, social networking

8 responses to “Hacking and Cracking Teenagers – Real, or a Teenage Fantasy?

  1. Pingback: Four Vital Tools You Already Have… « Tech–for Everyone

  2. Certainly food for thought here.

    I hope you get a lot of feedback from your readers on this topic…

    My two cents is, because we have evidence that 1 kid has admitted to criminal activity, we ought to abolish every person between the ages of 0 – 18.
    (Since I am over 18, it won’t effect me.)

    Um… that might not work. How about, abolish every person between the ages of 0 – 18 from the Internet.

    No.. enforcement headaches…

    I know! Abolish the Internet!

  3. Pingback: [ MilD Sixteen ] » Blog Archive » Hacking and Cracking Teenagers – Real, or a Teenage Fantasy …

  4. @techpaul: LOL. Carrying this further, we will have to abolish the entire humanity to get rid of evil from the earth.
    @Bill: Sure, some food for thought is here.

    • Bill Mullins


      Young people, as you know, experiment in many areas and in many ways; virtually all of it harmless. But experimenting with criminality, for those that do, can have life long consequences. While hacking can seem to be a relatively harmless experiment, it is, in most jurisdictions, a criminal matter.

      So, food for thought? I quite agree.

      As always, thank you for your comment.


  5. “…child pornography laws, which allow for the prosecution of even teenagers who post their own personal compromising photos online…”

  6. Yes. You did something not-so-bright. We must prosecute.