Half Have Had Their Facebook or Email Account Compromised
Yet Almost 40% Think Hacking is "Cool"; Companion Survey of London
Students Underscores Cultural Differences
April 14, 2010:Tufin Technologies, the leading provider of
Security Lifecycle Management Solutions, today announced survey
results that reveal the hacking habits of 1000 New York City
teenagers. Exactly half (50%) of US kids sampled revealed they'd
had their Facebook or email account hacked, which may explain why
75% feel hacking is wrong and 70% think it should be considered a
criminal offense. However, 39% of the teens surveyed think hacking
is "cool" and 16%, or roughly one in six, admitted to trying their
hand at it. Only 15% of the entire sample has either been caught or
knows someone who has - particularly disturbing considering 7% of
young hackers reported they did so for money and 6% view it as a
viable career path.
"Because kids today tend to be more tech savvy than their
parents, and the processes, procedures, and precedents for some
forms of Internet-based crime are still evolving, it's too easy for
kids to not realize the dangers or consequences of hacking until
they are no longer juveniles," said Monique Nelson, Chief Operating
Officer of WebWiseKids.org, an online safety organization sponsored
in part by the United States Department of Justice. "These young
hackers are under the radar, with the majority hacking from home.
Prevention is always an uphill battle, but it's imperative that
parents do pay close attention to their children's attitudes and
beliefs about what is appropriate - and legal - online behavior. We
want to educate kids before they make bad choices, not because they
A potentially surprising finding is that it's not just the boys
- of the sample, 29% of those who admitted to hacking were girls.
The most common reason cited for hacking was for fun (54%) followed
by curiosity (30%). 14% that hack aimed to cause disruption and a
resourceful 7% of US kids thought they could generate an income
from the activity, with 6% viewing it as a viable as a career path!
34% had already hacked by age 13 and 52% hacked between the ages of
Are American teenagers more law abiding...or do they just not
Tufin performed an identical survey of 1000 high school students
in London, the results of which can be found at http://tr.im/TULj. The collective
results reveal some interesting contrasts between American students
and their UK brethren. Some of the major take-away's include:
- American kids hack less, are hacked more and get caught hacking
substantially less than their UK counterparts.
- In the UK, one in four (26%) have tried hacking with 36% - or
roughly one in three - reporting that they have been hacked.
- In the US, 16% of students, or roughly one in six hack and
exactly half (50%) have had their Facebook or email accounts
- 18% of London and a surprising 30% of NYC students agreed
hacking is easy.
- 70% of UK teenagers labeled the practice as 'uncool' versus 61%
of US teenagers.
- Roughly 70% of New York students think hackers should be viewed
as criminals and be punished by the law, compared to only 53% of
their peers in London.
- Perhaps it's because they get caught almost twice as often - in
the UK, 27% have been caught or know someone who has been caught
hacking, as opposed to only 15% of their American brethren.
- Facebook is the number one target for young hackers in the US
(20%) and the UK (25%), followed by their friends' email accounts
(6% US & 18% UK).
- 80% of US kids had tried hacking by age 16 as opposed to only
44% of their UK peers.
In the U.S., home is where the hack is...
The study found a clear dichotomy between the two populations when
it came to their methods - while only 27% of UK students were
inclined to misbehave from the confines of their bedrooms, 51% of
New York teens had no issue hacking from their home computers. 22%
of juvenile offenders in the UK are utilizing computers in Internet
Cafés (22%), with only 6% in the US. The number of US kids hacking
at school was 28%, compared to 21% in the UK, with roughly 20% of
each population using someone else's machine.
"Over the years, hacking has changed from teenage 'script
kiddies' showing off their online prowess to sophisticated career
criminals hacking for profit," said Ruvi Kitov, CEO of Tufin
Technologies. "Whether they target a company's intellectual
property, a person's bank account or their Facebook page, our job
as IT security professionals is to stop hackers in their tracks. We
need to ingrain in our children that no matter how harmless your
intent, to gain unauthorized access into another person or
company's online assets is both wrong and illegal. This is
important not just to combat hacking in the future, but also to
educate children about online safety and increase their awareness
of common threats."
- If bored or curious kids were this successful at hacking, just
imagine what a motivated criminal could accomplish. Here are some
ways to stay safe online: Install security software: anti-virus,
anti-spyware and a personal firewall. At a minimum, your computer
should have current anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a
firewall to protect yourself from hackers and malicious software
that can steal sensitive personal information.
- Keep your security software and operating system
- Protect your personal information online. Be wary of clicking
on links in emails that are unfamiliar and be very cautious about
providing personal information online, such as your password,
financial information, or social security number.
- Know whom you are dealing with. It is remarkably simple for
online scammers to impersonate a legitimate person or
- Vary your user name and passwords between sites, that way if
one account is compromised it can limit the damage of others being
- Use "strong" passwords that are long and use both letters and
numbers, and change them every few months. To keep track of them
without having to write them down, use a password manager such as
Password Safe by Bruce Schneier (http://passwordsafe.sourceforge.net/).
- Untick 'remember me' boxes for user name and passwords,
especially for email accounts, online banking, social media
websites etc.. If your computer is used by other members of the
household - and possibly their friends - you may be exposing your
personal information without realizing it!
- Be careful what you talk about in chat rooms, you never know
whom you're talking to or who's listening in.
- Learn what to do if something goes wrong. You can also alert
the appropriate authorities by contacting your Internet Service
Provider or the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) can assist if you are subject to identity theft.
You can also forward spam or phishing emails to the FTC at email@example.com
Notes to editors:
This survey was carried out by independent, "man-on-the-street,"
researchers for Tufin Technologies amongst 1000 teenagers in London
and 1000 teenagers in New York City.