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Attacks/Breaches

9/21/2010
12:38 PM
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Hacking, Not Partying, At The Frats: 1 In 5 College Students Have Hacked

One-third say hacking is 'cool,' though nearly half have had their own social networking or email accounts compromised

New research shows parents have more to worry about than their college students' underage drinking: Twenty-three percent of college kids say they have hacked for fun or profit, although most of them believe doing so is wrong.

The report, commissioned by Tufin Technologies and the Association of Chief Police Officers in the U.K., found that 32 percent of college students aged 18 to 21 say hacking is "cool," 28 percent consider it easy to accomplish -- and all the while 84 percent consider it the wrong thing to do.

Some 40 percent hacked for the first time after they turned 18; one in three say they hacked for fun, 22 percent say the main motivation for hacking was curiosity, and 15 percent cited profit as their motivation. The report surveyed 1,000 college students at eight universities in England.

Nearly 40 percent of the hackers used their own computers to do the dirty deed, while 32 percent used their universities' computers. Another 23 percent used public computers at an Internet caf. College kids are hacking Facebook accounts (37 percent), email accounts (26 percent), and online shopping accounts (10 percent).

Even so, nearly half of the college students surveyed say they themselves have fallen victim to hacking of their social network or email accounts, and 41 percent, their university computer credentials.

"We live in a world where social networking, email, and the internet is embedded into our every day lives from a far younger age, so early education is essential to ensure young people know the devastating consequences this activity can have. What is concerning is the attitude of many of those surveyed felt that hacking (i.e., using someone elses account) was acceptable, or even something to be admired -- it is not. Hacking is illegal and we need to ensure everyone understands that," said Stuart Hyde, deputy chief constable and ACPO lead on e-crime prevention and President of the Society for the Policing of Cyberspace, in a statement.

Shaul Efraim, vice president of products, marketing, and business development at Tufin, said these students need to redirect these skills for the good: "Looking at these findings, from an IT security perspective, it would be good to see these talented individuals pursue a career in the security sector to ensure all organizations benefit from their obvious ability to strengthen security systems and stop the data breaches that litter the news sites today, and preventing hackers in the future -- whether they're seven or 70," Efraim said in a statement.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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