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Gaming websites are breeding hacker criminals, says U.K.'s National Crime Agency

Put down the keyboard and step away from the monitor.

Hacker

If you've ever used a cheat code or made a mod, you're on the path to a life of crime. So start making swatches for balaclavas and leather gloves now.

CNBC is claiming that "a new breed of cybercriminals" is being spawned through means of indoctrination "into hacking crimes via free and easily-accessible internet pages."

This extends to sites and forums with cheat codes and video game mods that "are making it increasingly easy for young people to develop criminal skills and become involved in hacking chat rooms."

The information comes from a report by the U.K.'s National Crime Agency (NCA) which doesn't appear to be sourced in the article. The NCA had a chat with British young offenders and ascertained that "key motivators" included "proving oneself to peers" and the satisfaction of "completing a challenge".

The lack of a payoff in cold hard cash is apparently an indicator that they wouldn't commit "more traditional crimes," with many of them unaware that their shenanigans fall under criminal activity.

"There is great value in reaching young people before they ever become involved in cybercrime, when their skills can still be a force for good," said the head of the National Cyber Crime Unit's Prevent team.

"The aim of this assessment has been to understand the pathways offenders take, and identify the most effective intervention points to divert them towards a more positive path.

"That can be as simple as highlighting opportunities in coding and programming, or jobs in the gaming and cyber industries, which still give them the sense of accomplishment and respect they are seeking."

According to global cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab, cybercrime is an issue growing within the ranks of young people. CNBC cites the company's research that indicates that "as many as one in 10 16 to 19-year-olds in the U.K. [are] in contact with somebody who has engaged in cyber activity that could be deemed illegal," and 35% "would be impressed if a friend hacked a bank's website."

There was no source for the research so the size and nature of the sample used is unknown.

What are your thoughts? Should we just bring back the old VHS piracy ads? Are cheat codes and mods teaching our kids to casually commit cybercrime? Let us know your thoughts on the NCA's report and Kaspersky Lab's findings in the comments below.

If you have the time to trawl through the internet to find the reports and have anything else to add, stick it in the comments.

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