Cyber Guidance for Educational Bodies, Parents and Guardians
The average age of a first-time cyber offender in the UK has fallen significantly in recent years, and law enforcement agencies are now seeing reports of children as young as ten breaking the law.
Online gaming can provide exposure and a pathway into UK based cyber-crime offending, and video hosting sites now offer tutorials on how to use low-level cybercrime tools.
Young people with an interest in technology, a high IQ, and an appetite to engage in risky behaviours are considered to be at a higher risk of committing a cyber offence, but many first-time offenders are also unaware of what the law governing cyber offences actually is.
The Computer Misuse Act 1990 criminalises unauthorised access to computers and technology. It is vital that young people understand what it covers, in order for them to be able to develop and use their cyber skills safely and legally.
The Computer Misuse Act 1990
Unauthorised access to computer material.
You watch your friend enter their username and password. You remember their login details and without their permission, later login and read their messages.
Unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offences.
Your friend leaves their tablet on the sofa. Without their permission, you access their gaming account and buy game credits with the attached credit card.
Unauthorised acts with intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing, operation of a computer.
You are playing an online game with a friend who scores higher than you. You deploy a ‘Booter’ tool knowing it will knock them offline, so you can win the game.
Unauthorised acts causing, or creating risk of, serious damage.
You hack into a police network. This results in delays to emergency calls and even though it was not your intention, you were reckless in your actions.
Making, supplying or obtaining articles for use in offence under section 1, 3 or 3ZA.
You download software so you can bypass login credentials and hack into your friend’s laptop, however you haven’t had the chance to use it yet.
What we can do to help
We work with the National Crime Agency to promote their Cyber Choices programme. The programme was created to help young people make informed choices and use their cyber skills in a legal way.
The aims of the programme are to: