Recent incidents such as the TalkTalk breach and the breach of CIA director John Brennan's email account have allegedly involved young hackers.
Leaving these events aside, security experts at Tripwire emphasise that teens are not more likely to be cyber-criminals than any other demographic group.
“No matter what, the sample age range of hackers will be skewed because we are measuring the hackers who've been caught,” said Craig Young, security researcher at Tripwire. “Instead of blaming data breaches on teenagers, we should concentrate on educating them about the consequences of cyber-crime.”
Tripwire offered several ways for parents and teachers to help teach teens about cyber-security.
- Show positive hacking examples by using practical samples of vulnerability research, such as a bug bounty programme.
- Provide safe and supportive spaces that let teens learn about constructive hacking (eg, capture the flag and infosec classes).
- Discuss online safety with them as they may believe their identities are anonymous online and that mischief on the internet is usually safe, however it can be dangerous.
- Prepare to limit and supervise their use of the internet. Malicious tools are easy to get a hold of.
Tyler Reguly, manager of security research at Tripwire said, “Since kids often do not connect online actions with real-world consequences, it's up us to help the next generation grow into constructive hackers who will help make the Internet safer for everyone.”