Gangs targeting autistic gamers in a bid to create cybercriminals

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Before participating in criminal hacking forums, a great number of teenage offenders take part in gaming cheat websites or ‘modding’ (game modification) forums.

Credit: News Field

Organised crime groups are using computer games to recruit autistic teenagers to become the next generation of cybercriminals, police warn.

Officers believe that gangsters are exploiting youngsters’ desire to fit into a virtual world that values their computer skills.

According to the police, criminals identify children who cheat at computer games and draw them into committing more serious cybercrimes.

‘Internet is a vast place, with the majority of it fantastically good, but youngsters need to be taught how it should be used, what good and bad is,’ said Steven Huckle, the director of the Games Hub at the University of Essex.

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To many teenagers, hacking is a ‘victimless crime’

Credit: News Field

Before participating in criminal hacking forums, a great number of teenage offenders take part in gaming cheat websites or ‘modding’ (game modification) forums.

By accessing these websites, vulnerable teenagers from the ‘autistic spectrum’ get in touch with people they want to demonstrate their computer knowledge as they lack the confidence to do so in the real world.

“They gain a level of confidence and kudos from that so it is really easy to start taking the next steps into perhaps sending some malware to their school because they don’t like the way they have been treated…then they might understand how they can use some of these skills to get some money,’ said Peter Goodman, chief constable of Derbyshire police

According to a recent research, more than 80 per cent of cyber offenders have a background in computer hacking, fraud or other online offences.

“This is the new criminality, it is the new way that criminals are finding victims and the new way in which they are making a profit,’ said Chief Constable Peter Goodman.

According to him, online offences should not be ignored just because there is national concern about knife crime.

To many teenagers, hacking is a ‘victimless crime’, which means that minor cyber offences remain unchecked throughout the years. For this reason, the National Police Chiefs Councils announced that every police force will now have units, dealing specifically with cybercrime.

Mr Goodman said that officers will work with teenagers who had broken the law, rather than criminalize them. The National Crime Agency is already sending potential offenders warnings that cheating by taking other gamers offline is illegal.

‘When people (not just children) are well educated in using and navigating the Internet it becomes easier to protect them. Equally anyone or company who provide any form of platform should take responsibility for it’s use‘, said the director of the Games Hub Mr. Huckle.

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According to a recent research, more than 80 per cent of cyber offenders have a background in computer hacking, fraud or other online offences.

Credit: News Field

Mr Goodman said that local cybercrime teams will be looking to identify children most at risk.

‘We are working with the gaming industry with a view to understanding. We are not saying do not develop your skills, we are saying use them in a legitimate way.’

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