Print 15 comment(s) - last by KessGarrido.. on Jun 4 at 11:53 PM

Little do you know that tiny Tim down the street just siphoned your entire bank account and made off with your identity.

Child delinquency is nothing new and neither is teen and pre-teen computer hacking. However, both of these are usually rather minor when compared to the crimes adults perpetrate, or at least you think this would be the case.

Typical juvenile delinquent crimes like robbing a candy store or beating up a peer takes a second seat towards derailing trains in Poland and injuring 12, stealing over 16,000 taxpayer’s information (including social security numbers), shutting down various government-run websites, or costing cities $250,000 thanks to intense and severe prank phone calls called “swatting”.

It seems that this is becoming a greater problem by the week. More and more children are joining the ranks of hacker groups and committing some of the most nefarious online crimes imaginable. So what is exactly causing all of this?

Chris Boyd is a director of malware research at FaceTime Communications: “These are kids that are nine, ten, 12 years old. They're part of a generation that doesn't remember when there wasn't an Internet, or easy access to it. They grow up with it. They start off playing games, and then they move on to [communities] where they're encouraged to take their hacking to a higher level.”

However, the majority of child hackers really aren’t hackers at all, but rather wannabes who boast about fake successes or failed hacks. The majority of these are “script kiddies” who simply use pre-existing hacks to carryout minor security breaches or copy insignificant files.

"They want to be famous," Boyd says. "Not just known among their peers for their technical knowledge, but 'American Idol' famous." It is a scary thought that if kids are able to do these things at such a young age, just what may they be capable of later on in life with such a strong desire for fame.

"Some of these kids are really quite proficient. I know of one 13-year-old who has 35 phishing kits on his site. He uses professional tools and gets good results. It's really quite frightening, the skills they've got."

What are the authorities doing about this growing epidemic? "Most [law enforcement agencies] are already strained, trying to do something to stop the financially motivated attacks, which are seen as more dangerous," Boyd says. "They only have the resources to focus on the biggest stuff. And when you're dealing with kids, they're too young to be prosecuted anyway. Some of the forums [targeted toward child hackers] have been up for three, four, even five years, and no one has shut them down."

As Helen Lovejoy of the Simpsons would say: "Won't somebody think of the children!?"

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I don't see it
By just4U on 6/3/2008 8:06:22 AM , Rating: 2
I thought that kids today who have grown up around computers would be more literate and savvy with them but in general? That's not the case. Their just like the generation before them. So I don't think it is as bad as this article might lead one to believe.

As to criminal intent.. Children have been recruited into boosting things like cars for years as the punishment for child offenders is next to non existant. Internet crime would be a logical leap for them in this day and age. Manpower just has to be redirected. (not saying police forces are not stretched thin as it is.. but that's a different matter all together)

RE: I don't see it
By KessGarrido on 6/3/2008 8:37:05 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I kind of realized and been told the article is a bit scaremongering. That wasn't my intent. Hopefully as I practice some more and do more blog posts I'll be better. =)

RE: I don't see it
By just4U on 6/3/2008 10:01:56 PM , Rating: 2
<thumbs up>

RE: I don't see it
By StormEffect on 6/3/2008 7:23:29 PM , Rating: 2
What freaks me out is the scale of impact related to these crimes. Sure, having a kid shoplift or steal a car is bad, but what happens when they steal Social Security numbers from a thousand people and destroy said people's credit?

RE: I don't see it
By Lerianis on 6/4/2008 12:25:21 PM , Rating: 2
That is a good question. But the bigger problem is how are computer and OS makers making things that allow them to do this. This applies to Apple, Microsoft, Linux distributors, etc.

There just is no reason for these OS's to even HAVE these extreme security vulnerabilities anymore.

Vista has fixed most of these problems (yes, on Vista, I am a Microsoft fanboy) but it still has some serious problems even though it fixed most major ones.

RE: I don't see it
By GaryJohnson on 6/4/2008 1:48:48 PM , Rating: 2
If they quit letting people install 'things' and run 'things' computers would be much more secure.

RE: I don't see it
By KessGarrido on 6/4/2008 1:55:01 PM , Rating: 2
I work for the U.S. State Department and we use Microsoft Windows XP. As far as we are concerned (and the government is very concerned) most extreme security flaws have been fixed, either by Microsoft or a third-party. If you have read the article, most child hackers target easier things like websites, games and unprotected networks.

RE: I don't see it
By Master Kenobi on 6/4/2008 5:16:58 PM , Rating: 2
Yea. We don't see this on the IT side of things in corporate circles too much. The days of direct hacking are going away fast. Now its far more profitable to use trojans embedded into legit software or websites that sniff for information. Services embedded into browsers like Site Verification of popular bank/financial websites in IE7 and Firefox3 are good to have but are not 100% reliable since they don't always have all websites on file.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes
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