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Who’s behind the Mask?

The escalating number of cases this year has shown we need to ensure our wits are about us now more than ever. But are we any wiser as to the kinds of people responsible for hacking?

We have almost come to the end of another year and as 2016 approaches it is evident that cyber-crime is not slowing down but constantly evolving. The escalating number of cases this year has shown we need to ensure our wits are about us now more than ever. But are we any wiser as to the kinds of people responsible for hacking?

The National Crime Agency revealed today that the average age for those getting involved in cyber-crime is only 17. The report claimed that many of those teens caught for cyber-criminal activity knew it was wrong but did it for fun and were unaware of how serious the consequences are. It was only a couple of months ago that the police arrested 15-16 year old boys who were responsible for a hack of one of the biggest telecommunications companies, TalkTalk. But it’s not just teens who are the only ones to blame. The stereotype of a snotty nosed teenager, hooded and solitary in his bedroom has been challenged, because quite frankly, it could be anyone. The stereotypical cybercriminal steals bank accounts, hacks into major companies to steal trade secrets, and performs other high-profile crimes that capture the attention of the media. However, the problem is far more insidious than most people realise.

Take case one for instance. Anthony Stacl received a 15 year prison sentence for cyber-criminal activity. He was an 18 year old student who tricked his fellow students into sending him nude pictures whilst he pretended to be female. A second case is one where a gambling addict turned to cybercrime to fund his addiction. This man advertised computers for sale on eBay, but never delivered them. Christopher Jacquette, along with some friends, hacked into college computers and changed failing grades to As. This may at first glance seem like a victimless crime, however it affects postgraduate and employment opportunities for honest students. In a final case, Justin Castilyn allegedly sent a counterfeit money order to buy videos from his victim who had advertised the items for sale on Craigslist. Castilyn was also a suspect of interest in several other internet scam complaints.

All of these examples show different types of cyber-criminal activity and aren’t your typical, high-profile company breaches that you will find making the news like Sony, Carphone Warehouse, Ashley Madison and TalkTalk. So you see, you may not be fully aware of what constitutes cyber-crime and that is a major downfall for any company. Awareness of cyber-crime amongst yourselves and your fellow colleagues is a key step to keep your company data safe. Stereotyping hackers is not going to help in any shape or form and these examples portray a stereotype that is breaking.

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