Teenage Cybercrime: A Rising Trend and the Need for Prevention
In an alarming trend, serious cybercrimes committed by teenagers have seen a significant increase. High-profile incidents have included a 17-year-old involved in swatting and bomb threats, a 19-year-old implicated in a cryptocurrency scam, and a group of teenage hackers, known as Scattered Spider, who were accused of breaching security at MGM Resorts and Caesars casino operations. Even a dating app specifically for teens was removed from stores due to exploitation by cybercriminals.
Youth and Cybercrime: Curiosity or Compulsion?
Various factors are believed to contribute to this rising trend, including curiosity, financial pressure, and the lack of rigorous deterrents for online crimes. The normalization of piracy and gaming among youth, and the volatility of the tech sector, coupled with the ease of engaging in cybercrime with the right skills, also pose significant challenges.
Alarming still, some teenagers are being preyed upon and recruited by cybercrime rings due to the lighter penalties for minors. This points to a disturbing reality of exploitation and manipulation of young minds by seasoned criminals.
Prevention Measures: The Need for Proactive Action
Experts suggest that creating positive outlets for youths with technological skills, holding vendors accountable for vulnerabilities, parental monitoring of online activities, and raising awareness about the fundamentals of cybersecurity could be potent measures in preventing cybercrimes. The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), for instance, has continued to support LOYAC’s Cybercrime Committee Program, aiming to raise social awareness about cybercrime laws and programs that fall under the law.
NBK’s Chief Security Officer emphasized the importance of protecting youth from exploitation and fraud schemes, such as fraudulent text messages, emails, and phone calls. He also highlighted the necessity of cautious dealings with links and the fraudulent schemes used by scammers to steal personal and banking information.
The Digital Delinquency Dilemma
The pandemic’s increase in technology use for education has expanded screen time for many, shifting some traditional delinquent behavior into the digital realm. However, it’s worth noting that some current cybersecurity experts, like Kevin Mitnick, started as teen cybercriminals. This suggests that with appropriate guidance and support, teens involved in cybercrimes could potentially redirect their skills to more constructive and positive ends.