Cyber Security

Children could turn to cybercrime during cost-of-living crisis

14th September 2022
Paige West

40% of parents believe children will become the perpetrators of cybercrime because of a lack of money, during the current cost-of-living crisis.

This is according to a new survey conducted amongst 600 parents across the UK by Censuswide on behalf of International Cyber Expo, an annual cybersecurity event created to help people and businesses operate safely online.

The survey also revealed 40% of parents have fallen victim to at least one security breach as a result of their children’s online activities, with 17% experiencing a breach twice and 10% experiencing a breach three times. The survey was commissioned to understand the changing behaviours and attitudes of parents towards their children's online activity in light of the cost-of-living crisis.

Key findings include:

  • Over two thirds of parents (68%) agree they will teach their children about online security because they can’t afford to be hacked
  • A further 63% of parents want their children’s schools to do more to educate on cybersecurity awareness when returning to school this September
  • Sixty-two percent of parents believe people will be more vulnerable to hacking with the crisis as people will be more desperate

As expenses continue to balloon, many parents are also rethinking their children’s online spending. In fact, 55% agree they will be more vigilant about what their children are spending online, while 42% agree they will reduce their children’s budget for online purchases.

“Rising costs will certainly put pressure on many households in the coming months and the consequences could go two ways,” said Philip Ingram MBE, former senior British Military Intelligence Officer, and Content Lead for International Cyber Expo. “On one hand, we will likely see children and their parents bombarded with a greater number of cyber threats, such as phishing emails which will bank on the public’s financial stress. On the other hand, we may see children turn to cybercrime to compensate for the lack of finances. It is during such periods of heightened emotions that the world of cybercrime thrives.”

“With hacking tools becoming increasingly accessible and affordable on the internet, we have witnessed a rise in ‘script kiddies’; inexperienced hackers who carry out cyber-attacks. While ‘kiddies’ do not necessarily refer to the hacker’s age so much as their experience, many have been found to be teenagers. In fact, in the UK the average age of a referral to the National Cyber Crime Unit is just 15 years old,” adds Simon Newman, International Cyber Expo Advisory Council Member and CEO of Cyber Resilience Centre for London. “Although law enforcement agencies are working hard to take down the websites and forums that promote hacking, the results of this survey also demonstrate a need for parents/guardians to take an active interest in what their children are doing online to prevent them from falling on the wrong side of the law.”

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