Vectra Corporation technical architect Damon Wynne likens computer hacking to writing graffiti across a wall or setting fire to a school’s classroom, and he says about 90 percent of vandalism performed on the Internet is by children as young as thirteen just looking for a kick.
“Most hackers are fairly low in the credibility pecking order, hacking does equate to vandalism,” Wynne said.
In his role at Vectra, Wynne tracks down hackers who attempt to raid corporate computing systems, both in Australia and East Asia.
Commenting on the recent attack of North Sydney Girls High School’s Web site, Wynne says schools are a hacking "haven" for kids who have been introduced to computer equipment and have Internet access.
However, children were most likely to be copycat hackers, resting their deeds on other hackers on the Web who actually know what they are doing, according to Wynne.
“They’re just copying what someone else has done and utilising a well-known exploit on an unprotected system,” Wynne explained.
Wynne says “its all an image thing. Most [child hackers] hang around in groups on the Internet chatrooms, bragging about what site they have defaced”.
Generally, child hackers are trying to get one up on the place they attack, such as students attacking a school Web site.
According to Wynne, more sophisticated kids can get involved in denial-of-service attacks, which can cost a corporation a lot of money.
He believes attacks on Yahoo and Microsoft’s Web sites earlier this year could have been the job of a child hacker because “that’s how easy it is” to attack a Web site.
More sophisticated hackers--which make up about 10 percent of the hacking population--go after high-end corporations such as banks and Web hosting sites with listings of credit card numbers, names and addresses, Wynn said.