Author Gary Hibberd
If you’re like me, you’re more than a little excited about the new Star Wars movie which has just been released (you did know there’s a new film right?).
Whilst the world is enthralled with the new film I have to say that I’ve been speaking about Star Wars in relation to Cyber Security for many years and below I’d like to explain what the connection is.
The Journey to the Darkside
Almost on a daily basis we hear about a cyber security breach of some kind, where a hacker has breached security and stolen thousands of personal records. For example in the case of TalkTalk over 157,000 records were stolen, leaving these customers wondering what to do and who could have targeted them.
Earlier this year the dating site ‘Ashley Maddison’ was hacked by ‘Team Impact’ and had over 33million records posted online. Hugely embarrassing for the company and personally damaging to the people directly affected (four people committed suicide as a result of the leaked information).
Hackers can, and do cause virtual and physical harm. But WHO are they? What do they look like? Frequently when I ask this question people assume it’s either the work of criminal gangs or the work of some young kid in his bedroom. The fact is, there’s a good chance it’s both.
Obviously there are exceptions to every rule but generally speaking the profile of a hacker is the following;
- Aged between 12 and 19
- Male (mostly)
- (often) Isolated or feelings of detachment
- Low(er) self-esteem
The more of the attributes above the more likelihood the person will go from a casual, inquisitive hacker to a full on cyber-criminal.
As in the Star Wars movies, hackers evolve over time from natural inquisitive exploration through to being ‘seduced’ by the dark side of the internet. This seduction can come in many forms, but a typical journey is where a talented young boy/girl begins to brag about being able to take down a particular website, using a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. This then raises the interests of others who encourage the ‘youngling’ by providing them with tips and tools to improve their knowledge. Over time their skills improve and the audacious hacking events gain them popularity and/or financial gain.
The Journey to the Dark Side is Complete
Cyber criminals don’t wake in the morning and say “Hey! Let’s break into Ashley Maddison/TalkTalk/Target/Your Company!”
Most likely cyber criminals start out by having more than a passing interest in computers and programming. They are lured to the dark side by those who see them as talented individuals who can be influenced (via money or status) to carry out their bidding.
Organised criminals from across the world can, and do target young talented computer ‘nerds’ and persuade them that “no one gets hurt”, “it’d be cool” or “You can make loads of money” all in exchange for a task or two.
Thankfully, unlike young Skywalker in the movies, once our young hackers have begun down the path to the dark side they may see the error in their ways. Hopefully before they do too much damage or get caught by law enforcement agencies.
The journey from a young computer geek (Jedi) to the fully-fledged cybercriminal (Sith Lord) is one which many young people take and could be taking right now, sat in their bedroom at home. Our advice is to engage with your children and speak to them about their activities online (in a non-confrontational way). Explain to them that you’re interested in learning about this new world and ask them to teach you.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t be afraid to talk to them…
Because ultimately, fear leads to suffering.
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