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New report sheds light on youth hacking

Academics from Middlesex’s Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies publish new research on young people involved in cybercrime

Hands typing on a laptopThe Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS) at Middlesex University and the European CyberCrime Centre (EC3) at Europol have published the results of a joint eleven month investigation on ‘Youth Pathways into Cybercrime’.

Led by Professor of Criminology Julia Davidson, Professor Mary Aiken – who has a Phd from Middlesex University - and Dr Phillip Amman from EC3, the focus of the research was on adolescent hackers and associated behaviour.

Professor Davidson says the penalties for involvement in cybercrime are not always understood by young people.

“Some very IT literate and bright young people are drawn into hacking without realising the consequences should they be caught,” she says.

”Some have been given custodial sentences and some face extradition to the US to stand trial if they have hacked into a US system.”

Engaging with a range of stakeholders from law enforcement, mental health and education, the report provides key recommendations for policy including multi-disciplinary prevention and intervention.

"There is an urgent need to channel the skills of these young people into legal pathways and to educate them about the consequences. This calls for a multi-stakeholder approach including law enforcement, industry and education." Professor Julia Davidson, Professor of Criminology

The report argues the importance of developing a technology quotient in line with measurements of intelligence and emotion. It also suggests moving away from the criminalisation of youth hacking towards awareness-raising, recognition of talent and education on the criminal justice process.

Learn more about criminology, including the new MSc in Cybercrime at Middlesex

Picture attribution: RoguePlanet, Flickr, Creative Commons 2.1

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