A quarter of university students have attempted to hack into IT systems.
The research by Tufin Technologies and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) found that a third (32 per cent) said that hacking is ‘cool' while 28 per cent considered hacking to be easy.
The survey was carried out amongst 1,000 college and university students from five London universities and three northern universities, It showed that just over one in three students said that they hacked for fun, a further 22 per cent cited 'curiosity' as their main reason for hacking, while 15 per cent revealed that they hacked to make money.
The survey also found that 37 per cent had hacked Facebook accounts, 26 per cent email accounts and ten per cent breached online shopping accounts. While 39 per cent of hackers use their own computer, others have used public computers and networks. However 84 per cent of 18-21 year-olds recognised that hacking is wrong.
Shaul Efraim, VP of products, marketing and business development at 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 organisations 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.”
Deputy Chief Constable Stuart Hyde, ACPO lead on e-crime prevention and president of the society for the policing of cyberspace (POLCYB), said: “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.”