A Review of Teenage Cybercrime

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Cybercrime is becoming a severe threat to all internet connected businesses around the globe. The emergence and the growth of the internet are bringing joy as well as negative implications to our lives. At the same time, conventional crimes such as kidnapping, extortion, and forgery are being done with the help of computers. Teens are growing up with computers and internet exposures, and business’ monetary transactions are being conducted over the internet. Online tutorials guides, off-the-shelf hacking tools, and video guides are making it possible for teenagers to be involved in cybercrime. Several methods and laws are being introduced to prevent cyber-related crimes and penalties are being laid for cybercriminals. However, this study attempts to provide a glimpse of cybercrime in society. The paper qualitatively reviews various kind of literature to understand the social, ethical and legal implications of teenage cybercrime.  It also empirically examine cybercrime’s present future, types, nature, its relationship with internet users to measure cybercrime victims and concludes that cybercrimes and the internet are becoming more complicated for law enforcement.

Cyber-crime is among the fastest growing areas of criminality in the current world of technology. Barlow (2018) reported that cybercrime is a severe problem which has resulted in the loss of billions of records across the world, which is associated with insufficient strategies used in addressing the incidences. Moreover, cybercrime includes issues of hacking, information bubbles, fake news, and attack of information systems using malware and other sophisticated techniques. Examples of reported cases include US elections hack by Russia and Google attacks termed as ‘Worst ever cyberattack’ during the Chinese and Russian ‘war games experiment’ (Lockett, 2018). More criminals are exploiting the convenience, speed, and anatomy created by the modern technology to commit adverse crimes, including identity theft, attacks against computer systems and data, distribution of sexual images, and internet auction fraud.

Cybercrime and Teenager

Due to an increase in internet technologies which can be easily accessed and freely downloaded, teenagers are getting involved in major cybercrimes although these activities are rendered illegal. The influence of this engagement of crimes by teens is the curiosity and other factors by superior hackers motivating them in committing the crimes. According to Weaver (2017), most of the teenagers involved in cybercrime are being driven by idealism and the need to impress their mates unlike the issues of money. Based on the reports of interviews conducted with most of the teenage hackers, they were not involved in any issues of fraud, theft or harassment (Weaver, 2017). Some of the teenage hackers get their motivation out of wanting to prove their potential to friends and tackle the most complicated problems. However, this teenagers could utilize their skills in making profits other than crimes. This study examines the issues of cybercrime and teenagers.

The internet’s global nature allow criminals to commit any illegal activity around the globe forcing nations to adopt domestic offline controls to counter crimes in their cyberspace. Besides, Campbell (2017) reported that teenagers in the UK are the most extreme users of the internet within the world. These teenagers are affected by issues such as harmful contents such as websites which promotes self-harm and cyber-bullying. Additionally, the most common negative online behaviours identified in teenagers include hacking accounts, fake profiles, cyberbullying, trolling, threatening behaviour among others (NSPCC, n.d.). For example, Martin (2017) reported that e-cigarettes could be manipulated and used as tools for hacking computers and systems. The e-cigarettes are modified and integrated with malicious payloads that host code which can download potentially dangerous files and execute them in the background of the operating system thus exposing the computer to numerous hacking risks such as the WannaCry malware. Teenagers are at very high risks of being involved in cybercrimes. For instance, Aiken, Davidson, and Amann (2016) reported that most of the attackers involved in the UK telecommunications data breach were teenagers aged between 15 and 20 years. According to Sulleyman (2017), children only requires ‘very little skills’ to be cybercriminals. Materials which accelerate teenagers being involved in cybercrimes include online video guides, and tutorials, and ‘off-the-shelf’ hacking tools. However, although there is increased cybercrimes across the globe, Crossley (2015) reported that police have been identified to ignore most of the cybercrimes where they only investigate one in hundred cybercrime fraud incidences reported.

According to Lyer (2016), teenagers are busy studying more about the dark side of the world for curiosity and fun while others are trying to understand the fun and bright side of the world. Most of the kids involved in hacking crimes are sentenced in prison due to multiple crimes for a period of up to 45 years although some are later changed to become security experts. On the other hand, The Edge Picture Company (2018) indicated that majority of teenagers involved in cybercrimes are doing it for fun without understanding the consequences although there can be servers penalties.

While using computers as tools, cyber-criminals engage in child pornography, fraud, criminal harassment, the sale of illegal substances, and intellectual property violations. Thus, they transform the crimes the law enforcement has been fighting to the internet. Besides, they can use computers as objects to penetrate through other computers and networks, deface websites, create malicious viruses, and access other computer systems without owner’s permission (Guan and Subrahmanyam, 2009). Additionally, with the help of technologies such as Python programming language, teenagers can hack into Bluetooth devices such as bears and capture messages exchanged by the audience. Numerous vulnerabilities found in devices such as baby toys allows hackers to efficiently exploit the devices and other information systems which allows them to steal private information for example passwords and use remote surveillance in spying on kids (France-Presse, 2017). However, Gogan (2018) reported that there are specific recommendations which can be used by consumers to protect hackers from spying on children. This includes approaches such as turning off toys when children do no play, learn the security protocols implemented in different toy manufacturing companies, provide minimal information about child identity assess malware in toys and update/install security patches.

Business valuable information and intellectual properties are becoming prone to attacks as they are shifting to an online networked platform. At the same time, business organizations are incurring costs in curbing cybercrimes (Guan and Subrahmanyam, 2009). Teenagers are getting involved in these crimes through online video gaming even though they are not aware of the action’s costs and penalties. Cybercrime is thus raising the alarm on legal, social, and ethical issues. This paper reviews the present situation of teenagers on cybercrime effects and investigates the overall condition of cybercrime, implications, motivations, and factors influencing teenagers to be cybercriminals.

Research Questions

o What is the impact of cybercrimes on teenagers?

o What is the current trends of the rate at which teenagers are being involved in cybercrimes?


A conceptual framework is used in this paper to outline the possible courses of actions and present preferred approach with the support of literature. The conceptual frameworks used defines the standard theory that tries to connect to all aspects of the central issue of teenage cybercrime. Moreover, the framework acts as a lead for coherent and empirical inquiry.

Cybercrime and Professional Conduct

Teenagers are being lured into cybercrime through online gaming forums (Curtis, 2018). Most the juvenile offenders begin to take part in ‘modding' forums and cheat websites before advancing to criminal hacking forums (Curtis, 2018). They mingle with other people who they impress or idolize by sharing knowledge and demonstrating their technical prowess. These among other internet related activities such as socializing raise concerns and thus the common control and media, political and social discussions.

According to the Osterman Research, approximately one out of ten U.S security professionals have participated in Black Hat activity (Malwarebytes Labs, 2018). Attending as cybercriminals as well as cybersecurity professionals qualifies them to be Gray Hats, and averagely, the survey’s participants believe that almost 5 percent of their colleagues are Gray Hats (Malwarebytes Labs, 2018). Even though 46 percent of the participants think that it is easy to take part in cybercrime without being caught, some believe that much money can be made in fighting cybercrimes as opposed to being a cybercriminal. The survey also affirms that more than one-half of all security professionals in the USA know or have an idea of someone who has taken part in Black Hat related activities. When polled together, cybersecurity professionals are 41 percent, and 22 percent have been approached for cybercrime, and 12 percent have considered it.

Money is among the main reasons as to why people are turning to cybersecurity profession and cybercrime. Osterman research affirms that 62.5 percent of security personnel acknowledged that Black Hat earn more money than any other profession. Cybercriminal can make up to $166, 000 every month, an amount which can net to $3,500 every month. From contrast, the True Costs of Cybercrime survey affirms that an average remuneration entry-level for cybersecurity expert is $ 60,662, and his or her top salary is $130,520 (Malwarebytes Labs, 2018).

Ethical Issues

Ethical hacking is a core issue when our focus is set on cybercrime. White Hat hackers attempt to interfere with computer systems with the aim of notifying the owners of the content about a problem so that they can fix it. There are security professionals who take part in ethical hacking as a profession, and the target company pays for these services hence making it no to be a moral issue (Cyber Security Intelligence, 2018). While other enthusiasts of security are freelance white hat hackers, they penetrate websites and software and publish the challenges and even at times publish the elucidations to the challenges. At times they send the information to the creators privately or publicly release the hack.

The other ethical issues that deserve more attention is hacktivism, that is, hacking and activism. Hacktivism can be said to be an act of using the internet and computers for either social or political cause. There are types of hacktivism which are illicit such as stealing information or breaking into trademarked systems while others are licit such as website imitations. Denial of Service attack (DoS) is the most prominent type of hacktivism which entails transmitting vast amounts of traffic to a given website until it gets to its maximum limit then it crashes (Cyber Security Intelligence, 2018). Recently, in a distributive way, DoS attacks have been carried out with traffic originating from hundreds or thousands of nodes across the globe thus making the source of the attacks challenging to trace.

Ethically, hacktivism is a grey area since there are groups which claim that the actions are protected under the freedom of speech and expression. With a closer look and understanding of hacktivism, DoS is only gaining access to a website at a grander scale and quickened rate thus there is no penetration into a system or hacking the system (Sinrod and Reilly, 2000). In the present day, the internet is the primary medium of communication, and proletarian movements are utilizing it as well (Cyber Security Intelligence, 2018). The basic questions every individual has to ask themselves are where the lines should be set if it is ethical to utilize hacktivists techniques to promote social opinions and how to create a balance between the rights to free speech and expression and to protects persons and conglomerates from the harm caused by hacktivism.

Social Issues

Cybercriminals have taken advantage as a result of interconnectedness, secrecy, and anonymity offered by the internet thus attacking the core underpinning of the present day information system. The law enforcement agencies have made considerable strides in their attempts to keep with the cybercriminals who annually cost the entire world billions in their ill deeds (McGoogan, 2017). Among the social implications of cybercrimes are the economic outcomes experienced by numerous nations. Even though the financial implications of cybercrimes are still under discussion, the public importance of cyber vigilance has given less attention. The sociologists have been well strategized to contemplate the more extensive shared interpretation and influence of the crimes whereas the psychiatrists and psychologists lend a helping hand to the victims to deal with the economic wreck, identity theft or sexy misuse.  For instance, cyber pornography has become progeny over the internet, and it mainly affects young people the age of 18 years. According to Kelion (2017), children can be protected from pornography by establishing requirements of credit card information before accessing the sites.

Social impacts considerations are complex. As the internet is evolving some of the social impacts of cybercrime may be redundant, and therefore sound research is needed to rebuild the knowledge. Given the spontaneous generation of the CAM and increasing decriminalization of privacy, there are challenges of investigating teenage cybercrime and its associated social impacts. Seemingly, even a vague crime which involves the internet at some point may be labelled as cybercrime.  Such crimes may seem straightforward from the criminological point of view. However, they are more troublesome from the perspectives of social impacts.

Legal Issues

There are numerous questions and issues regarding laws and cybercrimes. As the internet is continually growing, there are many unanswered cybercrime questions as well as precedence that are yet to be set. However, organizations are adopting relevant legislation policy support to enhance their security in unpredictable cyberspace. Policies are being incorporated with long-term educational efforts on a society level. Besides, laws are being enforced in the judiciary and legislative authorities, and nations are adopting national and international cybersecurity strategies, capabilities and powers. At the national level, policies necessitate the need for effective cooperation and coordination among entities of the government, civil society, and private sectors.

Under the Computer Misuse Act, cybercrime is a criminal offense. The police and the National Crime Agency take it seriously and make whatever they can to prosecute and arrest offenders (Cyber Security Intelligence, 2018). From the perspective of criminal justice and crime prevention, criminalization, electronic pieces of evidence procedures, law enforcement procedural powers, International cooperation, state jurisdiction, and service provider’s responsibility can bind and offer guidance to cybercrime-related activities. Teenagers who are involved in cybercrimes may visit or receive a warning from NCA or police officers. They can also be given seized computers and prevented from accessing the internet. Other penalties include arrest, fines, and even 10-year imprisonment (Cyber Security Intelligence, 2018).

The growing danger of cybercrime is beginning to claim national capitals. The existing laws, however, are becoming unenforceable against such crimes. An individual’s protection is not sufficient to secure cyberspaces to carry out businesses. Places where legal protections are insufficient, people feel insecure to compete in the economy. As crimes against computers breach national borders, states that were heavens run the risk of having electronic messages hacked. Given the profound and pervasive internet influence, it is therefore essential to own up that in criminology, what is happening in cyberspaces impact the real world either socially, economically, and legally. The socio-cultural amalgamation of criminality upsurges the chances that a nation may be involved in a natural crime rate. The rapid change in the manner in which individuals are interacting with each other, especially on a globalized world enhanced by the internet, creates social and economic inertia that criminals exploit.

Cybercrime Security Threats and Countermeasures

Security threats include multiple attack techniques employed by hackers to exploit systems. The UK considers cyber threats similar to actual terrorism (BBC, 2017). Hence, they are finding effective countermeasures that can be used to protect systems and counter the threats. Threats include malware infections such as the ransomware malware that is mostly used by cyber-attackers (BBC, 2018), weaponisation of smart technology such as IOT in attacking smart toys (France-Presse, 2018), and online attacks through websites. The countermeasures for these threats include installing and updating software components of targeted tools to reduce vulnerabilities available for hackers. Secondly, teenagers should be trained in cybersecurity to boost the defences established the government (Dearden, 2017). According to Townsend (2018) national competitions can be held among the youth to identify talented teenagers and promote them as being cyber-defenders and prevent them from joining the dark side of cybercrimes. Besides, those teenagers who have become cybercriminals, they should be enrolled in rehab camps and transform them into experts of security at the National Crime Agency (McGoogan, 2017).


The paper has not only affirmed that the internet had increased productivity and improved the quality of lives of every connected individual. However, the ever-changing technology leaves void spaces to be exploited ranging from information management to law enforcement. Besides, with the emergency and the growth of the internet, online safety for teenagers is an issue that affects the entire society. Teenagers have been identified that with little skills or tools provided ‘off-the-shelf’ and online materials, they are likely to become cybercriminals. Moreover, hackers can spy on children through toys and smart technologies which exposes to more serious dangers of cybercrimes. Cybercrime has led to the formulation of policies that may seem violent to the juveniles, however, considering its side effects, these laws in the juvenile justice system may seem relevant. However, governments should find techniques or countermeasures of mitigating the cyber threats associated with teenager cyber-attack include training and motivating them to use the knowledge and become security experts and establish rehab camps for teenagers who have already entered into cybercrimes. Cybercrime concerns and awareness should be increased to ensure a safe and cybercrime-free society.


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September 04, 2023


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Cyber Crime Teenagers

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