Hacking: a Childish Pursuit

Sad reading on the BBC website concerning the growth of youngsters involved in cyber crime:

Increasing numbers of teenagers are starting to dabble in hi-tech crime, say experts.

Computer security professionals say many net forums are populated by teenagers swapping credit card numbers, phishing kits and hacking tips.

The poor technical skills of many young hackers means they are very likely to get caught and arrested, they say.”

I imagine that many of these youngsters do not believe what they are doing is particularly wrong. If they think about the ethics of it at all, they would probably justify what they are doing in a couple of ways:

  1. “If the person whose card details I’m using was not careful enough to prevent its loss, that’s their lookout – they are ‘fair game’.”

    This is the same as casting the blame for a burglary on the person whose house or car was not locked; it is specious: the purpetrator is the burgler. It is a crime to take things that are not yours.

  2. “We are just doing to ‘them’ what they are doing to us.”

    A simple de-humanising approach that separates ‘us’ from ‘them’ which makes ‘them’ less worthy than ‘us’ and as a consequence makes ‘them’ acceptable objects for harvesting.

Right and wrong is rarely clear, and to a child who does not have a moral code that is in broad alignment with the society in which they live, it is even less clear.
How do we ensure that our youngsters not only get told about moral responsibility but really take it to heart?

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