Teenagers involved in online attacks such as the TalkTalk hack should be mentored rather than criminalised, to ensure society benefits from ‘their incredible skillset’, according to cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken.
“As a society, do we really want to criminalise 13, 14 and 15 year olds? Or do we want to understand their behaviour, engage with their incredible skillset, mentor them and try to point them in the right direction,” she said at Web Summit this week.
Police arrested a fourth individual in connection with the data breach this week: a 16-year-old boy in Norwich. It follows the arrests of three other individuals aged 15, 16 and 20 since the hack last month, which saw them steal thousands of TalkTalk customers’ personal details.
Aiken suggested the focus should turn to the motivations behind such attacks, for example whether it was for profit or revenge.
For example, she said, the hack on Sony last year was not motivated by the planned release of the film The Interview (which featured a plot to assassinate of Kim Jong-Un), which led many to conclude it had been orchestrated by North Korea.
“If the motive was stopping the release of the movie, how come it got released on sites that cost 4.99 from GoDaddy? Why were those websites not brought down and all those credit cards to purchase it unaffected? It comes back to motive. The movie was released; it was never about the movie,” she said.