The Teenage Hacker – Fact Or Myth?

Do teenage hackers exist in any significant number? More to the point – do they constitute a threat to your security on the Internet?

Hard statistics are understandably difficult to come by. But, in a study released last year by Panda Security, which looked at the Internet habits of adolescents between 15 and 18 years olds, we may have seen a least a partial answer.

Some of the general statistics brought out 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.

As an Internet Security Blogger, the following statistic though, 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”.

See today’s article – BitDefender Says Facebook Hacker: A Do-It-Yourself Kiddie Script Is On The Loose!

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I can tell you, based on reader responses to a number of 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 user 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.

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7 Comments

Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Kiddie Script, Online Safety, Panda Security, PandaLabs, Software, Teenage hackers, Windows Tips and Tools

7 responses to “The Teenage Hacker – Fact Or Myth?

  1. Pingback: Articles » Blog Archive » Spy Equipment Accessories for Home Surveillance

  2. I’m doubtful.

    I can think of dozens of instances in the past couple of years when older teens and twenty-somethings have told me their email or facebook account was hacked. I’m sure I hear it once a week.

    In each case where I pressed them, it turned out that by “hacked” they meant “opened without permission” – usually because they shared the password, or walked away from a PC while still logged in.

    (Once a month, during my adult learning classes, someone opens a social networking account, and then simply minimizes the browser window while going out for “a quick smoke”.)

    The closest I’ve seen to real ‘hacking’ (which I take to mean using a work-around to access or operate a program via an unintended route) is when someone clicks the “forgot my password” button and then guesses the right security answers. But I don’t think that’s really hacking.

    It’s a bit like leaving a veranda door ajar, and then telling the cops a robber picked your locks.

    Maybe it’s less embarrassing.

    • Hey Wendell,

      Long time – no hear. I trust all is well in the East.

      You’re right of course – it seems there are many definitions of “hacking”. There is a major difference between unauthorized access, and hacking – at least technically. Although, the outcome can potentially be as serious, in either case.

      Best,

      Bill

  3. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    I think in the early years of the internet, teenagers were more prevalent on the hacking scene, basically because adults tended to frown on it. It was a badge of honour for them to be able to hack someone’s system, or a website etc. Young people are curious and I guess this is to be expected.

    But now, they probably are in the minority, since organized crime has got in on the hacking scene. As we know, the internet is more dangerous now than when it started. The old days were easy to deal with, today we have to be on the ball all the time.

    Cheers

    • Hey Mal,

      I agree. Back in the day, it didn’t take all that much effort to be a hacker, since protection applications were either non-existent, or crude. And, you’re right – being a hacker was a badge of honour for a teenager!

      As you say, “organized crime” is now the major player in the cyber criminal field – which is why current malware is so sophisticated, and dangerous.

      Best,

      Bill

  4. Michael Cole

    I went to Slimware and downloaded SlimCleaner & SlimDrivers. Wanted to take them for a spin, big fan of cloud apps. They are not fully baked, are beta after all. Reason for note: great customer service, great follow thru, very professional. I give this software company an A, hard grade to get from me.