The National Crime Agency is taking a novel approach to bridging the UK’s cybersecurity skills shortage with plans to turn young hackers from a potential life of crime into security experts.
With one of the UK’s most serious hack attacks – the 2015 TalkTalk breach – being perpetrated by teenagers, the NCA is keen to get youngsters on board.
Those who have been served with cautions or cease and desist orders for computer misuse will now be “invited” to attend cybercrime rehab camps at the NCA as part of its Prevent initiative.
Seven young men recently attended the first weekend of the rehab workshops in Bristol; the programme involved learning security skills and ways to earn money legitimately through their talents.
The offenders on the rehab programme had been arrested previously of visited by the NCA for committing cyber crime offences at home or school.
NCA Prevent manager Richard Jones told the Telegraph: “Cybercrime has become easier to commit with the proliferation of easy-to-access tools, tutorials and online forums to share idea.
“Even the most basic forms of cybercrime can have huge impacts and the NCA and police will arrest and prosecute offenders, which can be devastating to their future.
“That means there is great value in reaching young people before they become involved in cybercrime, and even those already on the fringes of criminality – when their skills can still be a force for good.”
The scheme followed research that looked at the abilities of illegal hackers in comparison with those who worked in cyber security. It found that those on the right side of the law were very similar to the other group, but at some point a parent, guardian or teacher had intervened to put them on a law-abiding path.
If the trial of the scheme is successful, it will be rolled out across the country for other young hackers.
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