That online game might be leading your child into the seedy underground world of hackers — or so one list would have you believe.
The list, published in the Liverpool Echo, gives parents some warning signs that their child might be involved in cyber crime.
It’s commendable to encourage parents to be aware of their kids’ online activities. But the list is so broad, and encompasses such innocuous behavior, that almost anyone could qualify as a hacker.
Here are the signs to look out for:
- They spend most of their free time alone with their computer — I play and work on my computer.
- They have few real friends, but talk extensively to online friends about computers — Apparently all my gaming friends online aren’t my “real” friends.
- 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) — Multiple people in my circle of friends call me “Athena” thanks to my gaming handle. Does that count?
- 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 — No comment.
- Some circumstantial evidence suggests children with Autism and Asperger’s could be more vulnerable to becoming hackers.
The list even borders on offensive, saying, “Some circumstantial evidence suggests children with Autism and Asperger’s could be more vulnerable to becoming hackers.”
This is part of a program called “Hackers to Heroes,” which encourages computer-savvy kids to use their talents for good.
The man behind the list is self-described cybersecurity expert Vince Warrington, who warns that children as young as 8 are at risk of becoming hackers. They get their start, he claims, exploiting flaws in online games and selling the information.
Gamers and kids everywhere — we’re all hackers now.