An "emerging Thought Leader in information security" has created a list of behaviors that he feels parents can use to determine whether their children are computer hackers.
Vince Warrington has thus far spent 15 years helping private entities, not-for-profit organizations, and Government departments with their IT security programs. A member of the Information Assurance Advisory Council (IAAC) and the UK Cyber Security Forum, he's taken his experiences to partner with Youth Federation to create "Hackers to Heroes," a program that encourages young people to embrace computer security and steer clear of computer crime. Part of that effort has involved identifying certain warning signs he feels could indicate a child is involved in illegal hacking.
Here's the list of behaviors Warrington provided to Liverpool Echo.
- They spend most of their free time alone with their computer.
- They have few real friends, but talk extensively to online friends about computers.
- Teachers say the child has a keen interest in computers, almost to the exclusion of all other subjects.
- They’re online so much it affects their sleeping habits.
- They use the language of hacking, with terms such as ‘DdoS’ (pronounced D-dos), Dossing, pwnd, Doxing, Bots, Botnets, Cracking, Hash (refers to a type of encryption rather than cannabis), Keylogger, Lulz, Phishing, Spoof or Spoofing. Members of the Anonymous Hackivist group refer to their attacks as ‘Ops’.
- They refer to themselves and their friends as hackers or script kiddies.
- They have multiple social media profiles on one platform.
- They have multiple email addresses.
- They have an odd sounding nickname (famous ones include MafiaBoy and CyberZeist).
- Their computer has a web browser called ToR (The Onion Router) which is used to access hacking forums on the dark web.
- Monitoring tools you’ve put on the computer might suddenly stop working.
- They can connect to the wifi of nearby houses (especially concerning if they have no legitimate reason to have the password).
- They claim to be making money from online computer games (many hackers get started by trying to break computer games in order to exploit flaws in the game. They will then sell these ‘cheats’ online).
- They might know more than they should about parents and siblings, not being able to resist hacking your email or social media.
- Your internet connection slows or goes off, as their hacker rivals try to take them down.
- Some circumstantial evidence suggests children with Autism and Asperger’s could be more vulnerable to becoming hackers.
Many of the indicators identified by Warrington match up with those included in #CyberChoices, an initiative launched by the National Crime Agency back in late 2015. That program espoused a similar mission as "Hackers to Heroes."
Warrington, who says he's "been described as an emerging Thought Leader in information security as I have a holistic approach to data protection," wants people of all ages to enter the digital security field. He feels this influx will help address a lack of skilled professionals that's evident in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
As he told Liverpool Echo:
"By 2022, we’re looking at a global shortfall of 1.8 million skilled cyber security workers. If you want a career change, cyber is the way to go. The average for a senior cyber security consultant is £80-90,000, and a chief information security officer (CISO) for a mid-sized business costs £120,000 to £140,000. Some CISOs for big banks are pulling in millions of pounds because they’re that valuable."