Is your child a hacker? Liverpudlian parents get warning signs checklist

Do they use 'the language of hacking', including referring to themselves as a 'hacker'?

Hot on the heels of Liverpool being awarded the European Capital of Culture for 2008 comes a charity programme, run by YouthFed, titled Hackers to Heroes.

The programme, which encourages youngsters to develop useful computer skills, is also informing parents of the signs they may encounter if their children are on the path to becoming cybercriminals.

A list of potential warning signs was published by the Liverpool Echo today.

The list was compiled by Vince Warrington, a self-described "Cyber Security Leader & Entrepreneur" who has "helped both the government and private companies keep their data safe", according to the Echo. He wrote on LinkedIn: "I've been described as an emerging Thought Leader in information security as I have a holistic approach to data protection."

That thinkfluence has now formed part of the Hackers for Heroes scheme, which is targeting children aged between 8 and 18 and informing them about how to behave properly when traversing the interwebz.

We reproduce it here for concerned parents in other parts of the country.

  • They spend most of their free time alone with their computer
  • They have few real friends, but talk extensively to online friends about computers
  • Teachers say the child has a keen interest in computers, almost to the exclusion of all other subjects
  • They're online so much it affects their sleeping habits
  • They use the language of hacking, with terms such as "DdoS" (pronounced D-dos), Dossing, pwnd, Doxing, Bots, Botnets, Cracking, Hash (refers to a type of encryption rather than cannabis), Keylogger, Lulz, Phishing, Spoof or Spoofing. Members of the Anonymous Hacktivist group refer to their attacks as "Ops"
  • They refer to themselves and their friends as hackers or script kiddies
  • They have multiple social media profiles on one platform
  • They have multiple email addresses
  • They have an odd-sounding nickname (famous ones include MafiaBoy and CyberZeist)
  • Their computer has a web browser called ToR (The Onion Router) which is used to access hacking forums on the dark web
  • Monitoring tools you've put on the computer might suddenly stop working
  • They can connect to the wifi of nearby houses (especially concerning if they have no legitimate reason to have the password)
  • They claim to be making money from online computer games (many hackers get started by trying to break computer games in order to exploit flaws in the game. They will then sell these "cheats" online)
  • They might know more than they should about parents and siblings, not being able to resist hacking your email or social media
  • Your internet connection slows or goes off, as their hacker rivals try to take them down
  • Some circumstantial evidence suggests children with autism and Asperger's could be more vulnerable to becoming hackers

Concerned parents will undoubtedly be grateful for this sensible advice, which complements that issued by the National Crime Agency before Christmas 2015.

While readers may be unconcerned that their children are doing illegal things online, Warrington told the Echo that "children as young as eight have gotten involved in hacking, and most often it starts with online gaming."

Everyone panic! ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Narrower topics

Other stories you might like

  • LGBTQ+ folks warned of dating app extortion scams
    Uncle Sam tells of crooks exploiting Pride Month

    The FTC is warning members of the LGBTQ+ community about online extortion via dating apps such as Grindr and Feeld.

    According to the American watchdog, a common scam involves a fraudster posing as a potential romantic partner on one of the apps. The cybercriminal sends explicit of a stranger photos while posing as them, and asks for similar ones in return from the mark. If the victim sends photos, the extortionist demands a payment – usually in the form of gift cards – or threatens to share the photos on the chat to the victim's family members, friends, or employer.

    Such sextortion scams have been going on for years in one form or another, even attempting to hit Reg hacks, and has led to suicides.

    Continue reading
  • Google: How we tackled this iPhone, Android spyware
    Watching people's every move and collecting their info – not on our watch, says web ads giant

    Spyware developed by Italian firm RCS Labs was used to target cellphones in Italy and Kazakhstan — in some cases with an assist from the victims' cellular network providers, according to Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG).

    RCS Labs customers include law-enforcement agencies worldwide, according to the vendor's website. It's one of more than 30 outfits Google researchers are tracking that sell exploits or surveillance capabilities to government-backed groups. And we're told this particular spyware runs on both iOS and Android phones.

    We understand this particular campaign of espionage involving RCS's spyware was documented last week by Lookout, which dubbed the toolkit "Hermit." We're told it is potentially capable of spying on the victims' chat apps, camera and microphone, contacts book and calendars, browser, and clipboard, and beam that info back to base. It's said that Italian authorities have used this tool in tackling corruption cases, and the Kazakh government has had its hands on it, too.

    Continue reading
  • NSO claims 'more than 5' EU states use Pegasus spyware
    And it's like, what ... 12, 13,000 total targets a year max, exec says

    NSO Group told European lawmakers this week that "under 50" customers use its notorious Pegasus spyware, though these customers include "more than five" European Union member states.

    The surveillance-ware maker's General Counsel Chaim Gelfand refused to answer specific questions about the company's customers during a European Parliament committee meeting on Thursday. 

    Instead, he frequently repeated the company line that NSO exclusively sells its spyware to government agencies — not private companies or individuals — and only "for the purpose of preventing and investigating terrorism and other serious crimes."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022