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How can a school cope with children who are capable of hacking its systems?

Young man is typing on laptop and looking at screen

Computers and laptops occupy a desk in almost every child’s home today. Additionally, schools also have a dedicated time assigned exclusively to computers for research purposes.

Easy access to technology has brought many positives to education. But increasingly, schools need to be aware of computer-savvy children whose sophisticated skills could create challenges for their IT systems.

Hacking has its roots back in the 1950s and 1960s and was defined as a person who understands the systems and tries to break them, with good or ill intent, or simply to see if it can be done.

Could one of your pupils be a hacker?

The hacker personality is mainly characterised by “curiosity” about and “passion” for technology. Some other traits are: persistence, technical prowess and innovative ways of perceiving problems. Normally, such traits are considered ‘gifted’ by teachers and parents, which can make it difficult to detect that their teens are gradually dabbling in hi tech crime.

But, here is why this is considered a serious crime:

Even in the case of a teenager, if they ever break into systems (even if not for the purpose of stealing and using information online) they can be prosecuted under the same laws as a terrorist who hacks into systems.

A recent article published by Huffington Post revealed that one in ten (16 to 19-year-old teens) engage in some form of illegal cyber-activity. In fact, the article further reported that over a third of them would be impressed if a friend managed to replace a homepage of a major bank with a cartoon. The survey was conducted with a sample of 1,500 (16 to 19-year-old teens).

It further concluded that teens seek this sort of respect from peers, but many may be naïve about the consequences of their actions.

“I see kids of 11 and 12 sharing credit card details and asking for hacks,” said Chris Boyd, Director of Malware research at FaceTime Security.

Graham Robb, a board member of the Youth Justice Board for Ministry of Justice, UK explains the risks involved in hacking for young people.

“If they get a criminal record it stays with them. A Criminal Record Bureau check will throw that up and it could prevent access to jobs.”

The story of Ryan Cleary who was accused of a hacking attack

In 2011, 19 year-old Ryan Cleary made headlines when he was arrested for hacking the website of the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Cleary created a remotely controlled network of zombie computers known as “botnet.” He carried out distributed denial of service attacks using “botnet” that resulted in websites getting flooded with traffic to make them crash. Another similar attack he carried out was against the British Phonographic Industry’s website and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s website.

In 2013, Cleary made news again for all the wrong reasons – he was found with more than 170 indecent images of children, some as young as six months.

Are you concerned that your systems may be susceptible to hackers? Have you implemented e-safety measures in your school? Securus-software not only provides solutions but also partners with schools in safeguarding their pupils online. Follow us on Twitter to get daily updates on e-safety solutions.

Greg Johnson
Greg Johnson

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