NCA launches campaign to discourage young people from cyber crime

The #CyberChoices campaign was launched after analysis involving the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit reported the average age of cyber crime suspects was 17.

The research suggested that many young people and their parents are not aware of what constitutes cyber crime or the consequences of engaging in it. The campaign aims to highlight the type of illegal online activity young people can become involved with, and help parents and carers to spot the signs of potential problems.

Another aspect of the campaign is to encourage young people to use their skills and interests in technology in a more productive way.

Richard Jones, head of the National Cyber Crime Unit’s Prevent team said: “Over the past few years the NCA has seen the people engaging in cyber crime becoming younger and younger. We know that simply criminalising young people cannot be the solution to this and so the campaign seeks to help motivate children to use their skills more positively.

“We have aimed the campaign initially at parents, because we know from research that they often are unaware of what their children are doing online. These individuals are really bright and have real potential to go on to exciting and fulfilling jobs. But by choosing the criminal path they can move from low level ‘pranking’ to higher level cyber crime quite quickly, sometimes without even considering that what they’re doing is against the law.

“We want these young people, and their parents, to understand that choosing that path can result in a criminal record, can limit their choices for their future, and can put restrictions on their daily lives including the loss of access to the internet.”

Dr Robert L Nowill, chairman of the Cyber Security Challenge UK, said: “Young people are becoming increasingly savvy and switched on to the world of cyber, something that is critical to the future defence of our country. The issue is keeping them on the right side of the law; many become attracted to the environment and the kudos they earn from getting involved in criminal activities.

“We need parents to encourage their children to get involved with schemes, such as the Cyber Security Challenge UK, and channel these skills in a positive way; opening the door for a lucrative career doing what they love, for the good of the country.”

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