Teenagers caught carrying out hacking and cyber-attacks could soon be attending a rehab camp that aims to divert them away from a life of crime.
The first weekend camp for offenders was held in Bristol this month as part of the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) work with young computer criminals.
Attendees learned about the responsible use of cyber-skills and got advice about careers in computer security.
If the trial proves successful, it will be rolled out across the UK.
The people picked to attend the residential weekend were known to police because they had been caught carrying out one or more computer crimes, said Ethan Thomas, an operations officer in the NCA’s Prevent team, which engages with young cyber-offenders.
Hundreds of fledgling cyber-criminals have been contacted by the NCA as part of its Prevent work. Some received letters warning them that their online activity had been spotted and some were visited at home by officers.
The seven young men attending the weekend camp had gone further than many the NCA is aware of. They had either been arrested, visited by officers because they were spotted using tools or techniques that break UK computer misuse laws or been cautioned by police because of offences committed at school.
They had been caught defacing websites, knocking servers offline and carrying out hack attacks that let them take over restricted networks.
One attendee said an early fascination with numbers and his accidental “hack” of a primary school network that locked everyone out of the system, got him hooked on computers.
The skills he built up were put to malicious use later on, he said, because they were a way to escape the bullying he suffered at school.
He used technical vulnerabilities to break into networks by exploiting vulnerabilities and used psychological tricks, known as social engineering, to force people to cough up details that helped him burrow further in.
“I manipulated people’s feelings and thoughts to my own advantage,” he said. “It was all attacks, attacks, attacks and nothing on the good side.”
One attack on a company website was done just for “mischief” but left the organisation behind it with a hefty bill as it struggled to recover.
“I didn’t mean to do it,” said the young man. “I had no intention to cause harm.”
The investigation into the attack led police to the teenager, who was then arrested. He was given a two-year suspended sentence along with a series of other conditions – one of which was to attend the weekend rehab event.
Join GhanaStar.com to receive daily email alerts of breaking news in Ghana. GhanaStar.com is your source for all Ghana News. Get the latest Ghana news, breaking news, sports, politics, entertainment and more about Ghana, Africa and beyond.
(Via: CitiFM Online Ghana)