Average Age of Cyber Crime Suspects is 17, Young Criminals Enter Dark Web

According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), a national law enforcement agency in the UK, the average age of cyber crime suspects is 17. An increasing number of young criminals are entering the dark web, engaging themselves in illicit activities linked to drug distribution and hacking.

Earlier this month, NCA released a research paper actively investigating the motive of young cyber criminals. The researchers from NCA noted that a growing number of teenagers have become involved in illicit operations and dark web activities due to their desire to obtain popularity and reputation online.

A teenager serving a sentence for hacking and fraud charges in the UK admitted that he got involved in illicit operations and hacking initiatives because it made him more popular on online platforms and on the dark web. The young hacker told NCA:

“It made me popular and I enjoyed the feeling. I looked up to those users with the best reputations.”

Officers from NCA further emphasized that the availability of free tutorials and guidelines developed to teach teenagers to engage themselves in large-scale hacking attacks and fraudulent operations is a major issue the local law enforcement and security experts in the UK have studied.

Because there exists many platforms wherein teenagers can learn to hack corporations or distribute malware such as bitcoin-based ransomware with step by step guidelines, NCA researchers explained that it has become much easier for teenagers to enter the realm of dark web and cyber crime.

Over the past few months, NCA along with other law enforcement agencies in Europe and the US have issued warnings against young cyber criminals who did not seem to be aware of the legal consequences for causing damages to corporations and individuals by hacking and distributing malware online.

Richard Jones, Head of the National Cyber Crime Unit’s Prevent team, told Belfast Live, a local British publication, that most young cyber criminals have been willing to immediately halt their activities and illicit operations when they were warned with serious legal consequences including long jail sentence by law enforcement officers.

In fact, most of the young criminals who were arrested and put into jail by NCA and other law enforcement agencies admitted that if they had received a warning from the law enforcement, they wouldn’t have continued their illegal operations and fraudulent activities.

“Even the most basic forms of cybercrime have huge impacts and the NCA and police will arrest and prosecute offenders, which can be devastating to their future. That means there is great value in reaching young people before they ever become involved in cybercrime, when their skills can still be a force for good. The aim of this assessment has been to understand the pathways offenders take, and identify the most effective intervention points to divert them towards a more positive path,” said Jones.

On December 21, 2016, DeepDotWeb reported that 34 teenagers were arrested for launching DDoS attacks against companies after being hired on the dark web.

At the time, the European Union’s law enforcement agency Europol and its Head of European Cybercrime Center (EC3) Steve Wilson stated that a strong case was to be made against teenagers utilizing sophisticated technologies to initiate cyber and hacking attacks.

“Today’s generation is closer to technology than ever before, with the potential of exacerbating the threat of cybercrime. Many IT enthusiasts get involved in seemingly low-level fringe cybercrime activities from a young age, unaware of the consequences that such crimes carry. One of the key priorities of law enforcement should be to engage with these young people to prevent them from pursuing a criminal path, helping them understand how they can use their skills for a more constructive purpose,” said Wilson.

National law enforcement agencies from the UK, US and Europe are investigating cybercrimes initiated by teenagers and young adults. Over the next few months, international law enforcement agencies plan to tighten their investigation and make a strong case against teenagers who intend to misuse technology to cause financial damage to companies, businesses and individuals.

Average Age of Cyber Crime Suspects is 17, Young Criminals Enter Dark Web Average Age of Cyber Crime Suspects is 17, Young Criminals Enter Dark Web Reviewed by KAMAR CISA on May 08, 2017 Rating: 5
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