Half of New York’s teens have fallen victim to hackers, a survey says. Out of 1,000 kids questioned by Tufin Technologies, 500 of them claimed to have had the passwords of their Facebook or email accounts cracked but, unlike their British counterparts in a similar survey last month, 75% of the respondents thought that it was morally wrong. Seven in 10 even went as far to say that it should be a criminal offense.
Of the 16% of teens who admitted to hacking, three in every 10 were girls–putting paid to the theory that it is only teenage boys who seem to be soldered to their keyboards while girls are busy honing their Justin Bieber obsessions. And 54% of them did it for fun, 30% for curiosity, 14% to cause disruption, and 7% in the hope that it might make them some money. Some even saw hacking as a potential career. Most of the hacking was done from home, with over half of the teenage hackers saying they did it in their bedrooms, while 28% chose to nose around their peers’ Web pages from a school computer.
The findings have, unsurprisingly, been pounced upon by online safety campaigners. Monique Nelson, COO of WebWiseKids.org, puts it down in part to teenagers’ natural aptitude with the Internet. “Because kids today tend to be more tech savvy than their parents, and the processes, procedures, and precedents for some forms of Internet-based crime are still evolving, it’s too easy for kids not to realize the dangers of consequences of hacking until they are no longer juveniles.”
She added that it was up to the parents, however, to re-educate their offspring. “These young hackers are under the radar, with the majority hacking from home. Prevention is always an uphill battle, but it’s imperative that parents do pay close attention to their children’s attitudes and beliefs about what is appropriate–and legal–online behavior. We want to educate kids before they make bad choices, not because they already did.”