CybersecurityStudents think hacking is "cool"

Published 23 September 2010

A third of students surveyed thought that hacking was “cool,” and a similar number thought it was “easy”; the survey found that 37 percent had hacked Facebook accounts, 26 percent e-mail accounts, with 10 percent breaching online shopping accounts; an entrepreneurial 15 percent revealed that they hacked to make money

Students are ethically flexible on hacking // Source:

One in five college and university students have hacked computer systems despite recognizing that it is wrong, according to new research.

Worryingly, the research from IT security firm Tufin Technologies, found that around a third (32 percent) of the 1,000 students polled thought hacking was “cool” and a similar percentage considered hacking to be easy. About a quarter (22 percent) said curiosity was their main reason for hacking. An entrepreneurial 15 percent revealed that they hacked to make money.

The survey found that 37 percent had hacked Facebook accounts, 26 percent e-mail accounts, with 10 percent breaching online shopping accounts. Although 39 percent of hackers use their own computer, others have used public computers and networks with 32 percent a university machine and 23 percent using an internet café.

Strategic Risk reports that unfortunately, the study also discovered that nearly half of the students (46 percent) had themselves fallen foul of hackers having had either their social networking or email accounts breached.

This research, which was supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) — builds on a study carried out in March amongst teenagers. Both surveys found that there was no gender bias with hackers being equally split between boys and girls.

Shaul Efraim of Tufin Technologies said:

It is clear we have a smart new generation emerging who understand how to get around computer systems — some are doing it just for fun others with slightly more sinister intent! It’s imperative that we begin to educate this generation about the good, the bad and the ugly side of the Internet and channel these skills appropriately and legally. Looking at these findings, from an IT security perspective, it would be good to see these talented individuals pursue a career in the security sector to ensure all organizations benefit from their obvious ability to strengthen security systems and stop the data breaches that litter the news sites today, and preventing hackers in the future — whether they’re seven or 70.

What this survey clearly highlights is that hacking into personal online accounts whether email or Facebook is happening regularly among the student population. It illustrates the importance of keeping your passwords strong, secure and changing them regularly to help protect your accounts from unscrupulous people of all ages. We live in a world where social networking, email and the internet is embedded into our every day lives from a far younger age so early education is essential to ensure young people know the devastating consequences this activity can have. What is concerning is the attitude of many of those surveyed felt that hacking (i.e., using someone else’s account) was acceptable, or even something to be admired – it is not. Hacking is illegal and we need to ensure everyone understands that.