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Government cyber-crime agency paints all teens as hackers

With the way the media loves to pump fear into everyday citizens, it's no wonder that guidelines for ‘how to spot your teen doing X' are a common bit of advice dished out by various organisations. The latest advice guide from the National Crime Agency (NCA) however, has such loose ideas of what a hacker may be like, that they practically paint every young computer user as a potential criminal mastermind.


The NCA actually bought “WithdrawingMoney.com.” It sends you to the official site. 

In the new initiative titled Cyber crime: Preventing young people from getting involved, the NCA asks and answers questions like “what is cyber crime?” and ‘what are its consequences?' Those are relatively innocuous, breaking down what hacking, DDoS attacks and malware creation are, as well as what these various activities can lead to – namely criminal charges.

However it's in the “Warning signs of cyber crime,” section that things get a little silly. The idea is to teach parents what some of the things their child might do if they are taking part in hacking or malware making themselves. Things like, “spending all of their time online,” or showing an interest in coding, including “having independent learning material on computing.”

While you could see how these sorts of activities might relate to a young person who is looking into hacking and data security, it also sounds like someone who could potentially be one of the security experts that there is such a shortage of in IT. Similarly so, independent learning is something to be encouraged, not looked on with suspicion. [yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjYrxzSe3DU']

The most ridiculous on the list however is the warning that your child might be a hacker if they “use the full data allowance on the home broadband.” Downloading malware kits or hacking services isn't going to use a lot of bandwidth. More likely the kid has just figured out they can get Netflix in their room.

Admittedly the NCA doesn't suggest that parents who discover their child has “irregular sleep patterns,” should call the police, but have a chat with their child to gauge their computer skill level. Something tells us that if parents are reading this page however, they won't understand if their kid is particularly skilled, especially at security.

The NCA does also point out some of the positive ways that this sort of research and knowledge can be funnelled though. The Cyber Security Challenge is one way, as wall as tech apprenticeships and the Inspired Careers hub.

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KitGuru Says: Here's hoping that's the take home parents have from this, rather than seeing their internet usage spike and banning their child from their computer. 

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  1. This kind of media is abhorrent. This’ll only lead to ignorant parents discouraging their children from educating themselves about computer science and network security. In a age when real knowledge of computing is far too uncommon, this is completely the wrong approach. If more governments and businesses reached out to young potential “hackers” and offered them work experience and employment, the problem wouldn’t be nearly as serious.

  2. Governments need to stay out of people’s lives… the less they interfere with business that’s not their’s the better. stick to park benches!