Many teenagers hack and rarely get caught

A survey revealed the hacking habits of 1000 New York City teenagers. Exactly half (50%) of kids sampled revealed they’d had their Facebook or email account hacked, which may explain why 75% feel hacking is wrong and 70% think it should be considered a criminal offense.

However, 39% of the teens surveyed think hacking is “cool” and 16%, or roughly one in six, admitted to trying their hand at it. Only 15% of the entire sample has either been caught or knows someone who has – particularly disturbing considering 7% of young hackers reported they did so for money and 6% view it as a viable career path.

A potentially surprising finding is that it’s not just the boys – of the sample, 29% of those who admitted to hacking were girls. The most common reason cited for hacking was for fun (54%) followed by curiosity (30%). 14% that hack aimed to cause disruption and a resourceful 7% of US kids thought they could generate an income from the activity, with 6% viewing it as a viable as a career path! 34% had already hacked by age 13 and 52% hacked between the ages of 14-16.

Tufin performed an identical survey of 1000 high school students in London. The collective results reveal some interesting contrasts between American students and their UK brethren. Some of the major take-away’s include:

  • American kids hack less, are hacked more and get caught hacking substantially less than their UK counterparts.
  • In the UK, one in four (26%) have tried hacking with 36% – or roughly one in three – reporting that they have been hacked.
  • In the US, 16% of students, or roughly one in six hack and exactly half (50%) have had their Facebook or email accounts compromised.
  • 18% of London and a surprising 30% of NYC students agreed hacking is easy.
  • 70% of UK teenagers labeled the practice as ‘uncool’ versus 61% of US teenagers.
  • Roughly 70% of New York students think hackers should be viewed as criminals and be punished by the law, compared to only 53% of their peers in London.
  • Perhaps it’s because they get caught almost twice as often – in the UK, 27% have been caught or know someone who has been caught hacking, as opposed to only 15% of their American brethren.
  • Facebook is the number one target for young hackers in the US (20%) and the UK (25%), followed by their friends’ email accounts (6% US & 18% UK).
  • 80% of US kids had tried hacking by age 16 as opposed to only 44% of their UK peers.

The study found a clear dichotomy between the two populations when it came to their methods – while only 27% of UK students were inclined to misbehave from the confines of their bedrooms, 51% of New York teens had no issue hacking from their home computers. 22% of juvenile offenders in the UK are utilizing computers in Internet Cafés (22%), with only 6% in the US. The number of US kids hacking at school was 28%, compared to 21% in the UK, with roughly 20% of each population using someone else’s machine.

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