Rehab hopes to turn teen hackers into cyber cops

Once upon a time, adolescent trouble making meant sneaking out at night for some underage drinking and general shenanigans.

But these days it’s almost as likely that tech savvy kids are using the digital world to flex their mischief muscles by committing small scale cyber attacks like defacing a website, knocking servers offline or accessing restricted networks from behind their home computers.

Speaking with, cyber expert Professor Roderic Broadhurst said the only difference between hackers and those that work in cyber security is the latter group had had intervention at some stage.

It’s this reason that the UK government is trying to intervene with young hackers, trying a weekend “rehab camp” for teens who have been caught engaging in small-time cyber crimes.

The pilot program which is put on by the country’s National Crime Agency and grew out of a research project involves introducing the teens to white hat hackers and giving them advice about careers in computer security.

The attendees will be monitored in the wake of the program and if it proves successful, it will be rolled out across the UK, the BBC reports.

One participant in the program began hacking after what he described as an accidental hack of a primary school network that locked everyone out of the system. He said it got him hooked on computers and he was soon engaging in social engineers exploits to get people to unwittingly give up information to allow him to gain deep access to prohibited systems.

“I manipulated people’s feelings and thoughts to my own advantage,” he told the BBC. “It was all attacks, attacks, attacks and nothing on the good side.”

He was eventually arrested after he attacked a company website just for “mischief” but it left the organization with a hefty bill which it struggled to recover.

“I didn’t mean to do it,” the high-schooler said. “I had no intention to cause harm.”

As part of his suspended sentence, he was made to…

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