Tag Archives: teenagers

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!

image

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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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

New McAfee Study – Teenagers Confidence In Staying Safe Online Misplaced

image McAfee Inc., a well known provider of antivirus software and intrusion prevention solutions, has just released its most recent research data on the behavior of young people, while using the Internet.

The Youth Online Behavior Study, of 1,357 young people between the ages of 10 and 17 in the United States, conducted in May of this year, reinforces previous McAfee studies which indicated that teenagers have misplaced confidence in their ability to stay safe online.

While ninety-five percent of teenagers say they are confident they can remain safe online, survey results show a wide chasm exists between the perception, and the reality.

One of the more harmful urban myths, continually perpetuated by security providers, including McAfee, despite their own evidence to the contrary is – we have raised, or are raising a “tech savvy” generation.

I find the dichotomy to be just slightly less than bizarre. It’s little wonder that most parents believe it. This “truth” however, should not be taken at face value.

Simply because a teenager is more comfortable with technology than a parent, does not makes a teenager tech savvy. Knowing how to text message, or load a game onto an Xbox, does not make one “tech savvy”. It really is a situation where “they don’t know what they don’t know”, can have serious impact.

The following selected statistics from the McAfee study offer substantial proof:

More than one quarter (27%) of teens online had accidently allowed their home computer to become infected with a virus or other malware.

One in four kids (25%) report that they wouldn’t know what to do if they were bullied or harassed online.

More teens also admit to giving their cell phone numbers to someone online whom they don’t know in the offline world (12% this year, compared to 8% in 2008).

One quarter (25%) of girls—including 43% of girls ages 16 to 17—admit to chatting online with people they do not know.

Girls are also more likely than boys to get harassed online, share their passwords with friends, give a description of what they look like to strangers, and share photos of themselves.

Boys are more likely to download programs without their parents’ knowledge.

69 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds have included their physical locations on the social networking status updates

16 per cent of the teenagers involved in the McAfee study, indicated they had developed social networking profiles and Email addresses, which they had hidden from their parents.

I found the most surprising and troubling statistic to be; 31 percent of those surveyed stated that they’d change their behaviors if their parents monitored their online behaviors.

You can read the full report, in PDF format, here.

It’s reasonable to state, based on accumulated evidence, that the majority of teenagers, are undereducated when it comes to recognizing the dangers, and threats, that the Internet poses to their personal privacy and safety.

So, if you’re a parent, the following are just some of the questions you should consider:

  1. What social networking sites does your child subscribes to?
  2. Who are their online friends and acquaintances?
  3. What does your child post online and where is it posted?

Most importantly, you and your teenagers need to agree, that the following guidelines will be adhered to. That they will –

Never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met on- line.

Never upload (post) pictures of themselves onto the Internet or an on-line service to people they do not personally know.

Never give out identifying information such as their name, home address, school name, or telephone number.

Never download applications from an unknown source.

Never respond to messages or social site postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing.

An additional problematic issues is, the issue of sex, tech and teens; more precisely – teenaged sexting. For information on this current issue, please read “Sexting – A Real Problem or an Overreaction?” on this site.

Additional resources:

Microsoft Online Safety

WRAAC.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free and effective Internet control tools.

The FBI Kids’ Page – designed for children and their parents to learn more about the FBI through age-appropriate games, tips, stories and interactives.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under cybercrime, Internet Safety for Children, Internet Safety for Teenagers, Microsoft, Parenting Help

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”.

image

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.

8 Comments

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