back to article Is your child a hacker? Liverpudlian parents get warning signs checklist

Hot on the heels of Liverpool being awarded the European Capital of Culture for 2008 comes a charity programme, run by YouthFed, titled Hackers to Heroes. The programme, which encourages youngsters to develop useful computer skills, is also informing parents of the signs they may encounter if their children are on the path to …

  1. Ogi

    Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

    Simply because all those things listed can also indicate someone who is gifted with computers.

    The difference is to do with intent. Just like a hammer can be used to drive in a nail, or crack someone's skull. In such cases "Shows proficiency and to use a hammer and an interest in using it" does not mean you have a killer/criminal in your midst.

    I find the list particularly concerning, because if I was a kid nowadays, I would fit most of that profile. That would have been grounds for an "intervention" to put me back on "the right path", and I would not have the skills and abilities now which allow me to earn a decent living.

    My hacking around my PC, learning the ins and outs, reading sites online and generally socialising with (very smart, usually older) people on IRC taught me magnitudes more than any IT or CompSci course I have ever taken in a UK institution. Especially in school, where my exposure to this source of information allowed me to improve myself beyond what the courses in school taught me and beyond my peers in ability. Most of my abilities were self-taught, and these kinds of recommendations will stunt development of future generations at best, and result in kids getting into serious trouble because of misconstrued intent (OMG you got TOR installed, hacker! ) in the worst case.

    I fully expect if this advice got rolled out and enforced, in a generation or so those people in government will be sitting around and scratching their heads, wondering why the UK population seems to completely lack "cybersecurity experts" while other countries run rings around a populace generally ignorant of how computers work.

    And I like how TOR is described as solely a tool for illicit activities, because there is no legitimate reason to have TOR installed in the UK, especially after recent legislation to do with snooping, eh?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

      I think many kids who had a home computer in the 80s would be carted off for re-education if this were in place.

      1. b0llchit
        FAIL

        Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

        Guilty as charged. Please, lock me up. I cannot live with myself anymore, being a full fledged terminology-list offender.

      2. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

        "I think many kids who had a home computer in the 80s would be carted off for re-education if this were in place."

        I racked up a £180 a month bill fannying about on irc until 5am through my teens.

        Looking back money well spent, it was cheaper than UNI and I get paid a decent whack for doing something that I don't even consider to be work.

      3. Lotaresco

        Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

        "I think many kids who had a home computer in the 80s would be carted off for re-education if this were in place."

        Everyone I know who learned their trade in the 80s and who now works in the computer industry would be languishing in chains. I should be safe, it's not as if Lotaresco is a weird nym.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

      That checklist covers a neat profile of around 99% of children in the UK, always leaving the 1% possibility that some children only use 1 social media network or do not know about their parents' browsing habits.

      Unfortunately the scope of the NCA 'guidelines' also covers just about every El Reg reader. Perhaps the NCA should extend their notes to 50-somethings with receding hairlines, who enjoy Margaux, reading the misfortunes of GDS and the occasional hour of playing Skyrim for the umpteenth time.

      1. analyzer

        Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

        Unfortunately the scope of the NCA 'guidelines' also covers just about every El Reg reader. Perhaps the NCA should extend their notes to 50-somethings with receding hairlines, who enjoy Margaux, reading the misfortunes of GDS and the occasional hour of playing Skyrim for the umpteenth time.

        Ha, your on your own there, I don't have a receding hairline :-P

        yet ...

        1. Sampler

          Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

          Unfortunately the scope of the NCA 'guidelines' also covers just about every El Reg reader. Perhaps the NCA should extend their notes to 50-somethings with receding hairlines, who enjoy Margaux, reading the misfortunes of GDS and the occasional hour of playing Skyrim for the umpteenth time.

          Ha, your on your own there, I don't have a receding hairline :-P

          yet ...

          It's not receding when there's none left...

          (in my case)

      2. veti Silver badge

        Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

        It says "has multiple social media profiles on one platform".

        I'm fine with ridiculing the advice, but at least ridicule what it actually says, not what you hallucinate it to say.

        1. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

          >It says "has multiple social media profiles on one platform".

          >I'm fine with ridiculing the advice, but at least ridicule what it actually says, not what you hallucinate it to say.

          Most of the kids I know do this - one public profile (maybe for school too), one for close friends.

          It's much easier the managing the ever-changing privacy settings social media companies play with.

          I create email addresses for almost every organisation I talk to. Then I can track their data sharing.

          1. Jos V

            Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

            P. Lee. Just as a helper here (side topic), most sites accept when you enter your email as <yourMail+siteName@domain.com>

            Using the + there to add the site you're filling the email box on. This way, any emails you receive through their sharing of it will contain the culprit.

            Just saying...

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              Re: sidetopic

              really? does yahoo do that?

              so if my address is billybob@yahoo.co.uk

              and I use

              billybob+tescoshopping@yahoo.co.uk

              that will work?

              I dont need my own server or domain name?

              1. John H Woods

                Re: sidetopic

                "billybob+tescoshopping@yahoo.co.uk

                that will work?"

                It's supposed* to work but some webforms incorrectly filter out + as an unacceptable character. It works fairly widely though. And I'm pleased to say the only time I have ever received email to myname+elreg@mymail.com is from El Reg themselves.

                * RFC 5233

                1. Jos V

                  Re: sidetopic

                  Oh well, vote me down. Guess a side topic like this makes me a hacker too. Arrest me!

                  (Does it help when I say I spent a lot of time focused on the ZX81 as my first real computery thingy?)

                  I'm off to program snakes now.

              2. Dan 55 Silver badge

                Re: sidetopic

                Yahoo allows you to set up disposable addresses in mail options, you set up a base address (different to your real address) and then every allowable suffix. The separator between base and suffix is a -. Probably one of the few things they've done right.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: sidetopic

                  Dan 55@,

                  Very useful for tracking where addresses have been 'harvested' from, on all the junk e-mail you get !!!

                  I also use these addresses for all sites/etc that require e-mail addresses, as above is a good way to track who is giving your address away via 'bad' security or otherwise !!! :)

                  One of the primary reasons I still use Yahoo ...... but getting hard to justify the more you hear.

                  Question: Who is a good provider of e-mail (not via web) ?

                  (My ISP mail is awful, slow and flaky, so that is out of the question !!!)

        2. Lotaresco

          Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

          "It says "has multiple social media profiles on one platform"."

          Doesn't everyone do that?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Ogi

      True that, but you know in these modern times it's so much easier to follow these steps from a list than to actually talk with your children to see what they're usually up to. For some reason this reminds me of an episode of South Park :)

    4. Thomas_Kent

      TOR hell,

      just run TAILS on a thumb drive!

    5. streaky Silver badge

      Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

      The most competent whitehats were blackhats first. The end.

      My thing is what exactly is it parents are going to do to stop this? You've identified your kid is a "hacker". Great. Now what? When I was a kid back in the heady days of dialup my parents thought they could stop me using computers and the internet; and they were extremely wrong - I write software for a living now what's the problem?

      The key here isn't teaching kids not to be hackers it's about ensuring they can tell the difference between right and wrong, and I still contend we do need blackhats even for those who can't be taught that - there's no uni courses that teach the competences blackhats acquire from being down in (and causing) the shit, and there never will be.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

        re multiple spluttering objections of:

        "but that was me and im nice and have good white hat skillz"

        uh , yeah - thats because a lot of the stuff we did in the 80s and 90s *would* be unacceptable today.

        Parents will just have to use their own judgement , see how many boxes are ticked , maybe see how open the kid is to explaining / monitoring . etc.

        I'd like to see someone suggest how you do tell if your kids a hacker if you're all so hung up on the hacker ethics of freedom of information / access / software whatever that you consider all signs "nothing to worry about"

        Is it when the NSA kicks the door in? or are you going to say "no no, little johnny is just curious , and all those credit card numbers he collected was just an academic exercise - he was showing the flaws inherent in the system ..."

        </devilsadvocate>

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

          "uh , yeah - thats because a lot of the stuff we did in the 80s and 90s *would* be unacceptable today."

          Bullshit.

          1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

            Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

            No, really - just try telling one of the many jokes that were so popular in the 80's. Not just the really offensive ones but the ones where nobody with half a functioning braincell would believe they were true, but that would now fall foul of some politically correct insanity that suggests people from <insert name of country here> really all are as stupid as the joke suggests.

            Name-calling, toy guns, going for long walks in the countryside, driving long distances without "a good reason" other than the sheer fun of driving, visiting airliner cockpits, plane-spotting from less than several miles away...

          2. Lotaresco

            Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

            "uh , yeah - thats because a lot of the stuff we did in the 80s and 90s *would* be unacceptable today."

            "Bullshit."

            Oh I dunno, watching Rolf Harris, Gary Glitter, Jimmy Saville and Dave Lee Travis on "Top of the Pops" is pretty much unacceptable today.

        2. streaky Silver badge

          Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

          Is it when the NSA kicks the door in?

          I'd tell them they're in the wrong country and to do one.

          If it was the NCA or local po-po I'd tell them what they told my sister when her abusive ex found his way into her iTunes account and changed the password and added his own email address as a recovery address with proof who did it (not like according to the CMA this should result in multiple years in prison or anything) - there's nothing they can do.

          On a more serious note - as somebody who's been a kid in the past - the point is this article is completely useless to its stated goal. These things are not there to be discovered by the incompetent - if you read this article and it's your only point of reference; you're in no position to judge if your kid is a hacker any more than you're in a position to judge if somebody has an aortic dissection from watching house episodes.

          This stuff inevitably has negative consequences. Little Jimmy is a hacker because he likes computers and struggles to make IRL friends but belongs to a community of <insert game> players who accept him for who he is. Little Jimmy should be on restricted computer time so little Jimmy can't do whatever he's doing that's going to end with him getting gainful employment in tech fields over and above his peers who are all getting drunk in the local park and smoking weed. We can talk about it because we've been exactly here - and for the record if you think modern systems are more of a risky target than older systems you might be out of you mind - the only difference is there's more of them. I remember when credit cards didn't even have security codes printed on the back.

    6. slashdotdotorg

      Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

      as soon as they are born, put a laptop in their hands, preferably a linux box, a can of copenhagen, a pack of smokes and a coors light is optional. introduce them to the real world.

    7. IT_Pro

      Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

      1) They spend most of their free time alone with their computer

      -) This is equally likely to be the result of abuse or bullying, you should punish them for that

      2) They have few real friends, but talk extensively to online friends about computers

      -) They have lost faith and trust in people, restore faith by accusing them of hacking

      3) Teachers say the child has a keen interest in computers, almost to the exclusion of all other subjects

      -) This is definitely a reason to punish them, of course loosing interest in *all* subjects would be fine

      4) They’re online so much it affects their sleeping habits

      -) This could be a result of drug use but we will ignore that and find a better deficit model

      5) They use the language of hacking, with terms such as ‘DdoS’ (pronounced D-dos), Dossing, pwnd, Doxing, Bots, Botnets, Cracking, Hash (refers to a type of encryption rather than cannabis), Keylogger, Lulz, Phishing, Spoof or Spoofing. Members of the Anonymous Hackivist group refer to their attacks as ‘Ops’

      -) It's called vocabulary, more intelligent people have a wider vocabulary, it's time for that paternity test

      6) They refer to themselves and their friends as hackers or script kiddies

      -) What if they're a white-hat? Should we also put all the police in prison because they have more association with criminals

      7) They have multiple social media profiles on one platform

      -) This is practically *all* children over 12

      8) They have multiple email addresses

      -) I do to and I didn't even realize that I am a hacker

      9) They have an odd sounding nickname (famous ones include MafiaBoy and CyberZeist)

      -) How dare children express individuality

      10) Their computer has a web browser called ToR (The Onion Router) which is used to access hacking forums on the dark web

      --) TOR has just as many legitimate uses, better arrest the parents for having knives in the kitchen draw

      11) Monitoring tools you’ve put on the computer might suddenly stop working

      --) You've been *levelled up*, looks like there is going to be a big surprise then the paternity test gets back

      12) They can connect to the wifi of nearby houses (especially concerning if they have no legitimate reason to have the password)

      --) Or there was simply no password to start with

      13) They claim to be making money from online computer games (many hackers get started by trying to break computer games in order to exploit flaws in the game. They will then sell these ‘cheats’ online).

      --) Perhaps they're dealing drugs, nah couldn't be

      14) They might know more than they should about parents and siblings, not being able to resist hacking your email or social media

      --) Intelligent people are also very observant, they're probably trying to work out who their real dad is

      15) Your internet connection slows or goes off, as their hacker rivals try to take them down

      --) Or is just one of those normal technical problems that happen from time to time, It's pronounced para|noia

      16) Some circumstantial evidence suggests children with Autism and Asperger’s could be more vulnerable to becoming hackers.

      --) How dare you take the conditions like these and use peoples personal biases as a tool to draw a negative association to these conditions, that's just plain sick (in a bad way)

      By the way, I am a technologist so I probably have a fairly good idea.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All I can think of is Cake.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xbq3kc29Tmg

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All I can think of is Cake.

      All I can think of is walking in on my son looking like the boy in the picture. That picture is amazing! But seriously, if your 8 year kid can get you out of a mortgage bill or 2, well... I guess I should buy him some dark hoodies.

      "How's the mortgage coming son?" ... "I told you I'll do it later dad...GEESH!!"

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Holistic approach to...

    ... what a stuck up asshole.

    I fit all of these criteria and all I am is a twitter shitposter, not a hacker... I must've taken a wrong turn somewhere.

  4. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    I like the list of warning signs given!

    "Parents, is your child using Hash, when in your days they used hash?"

    Next they'll be warning about the dangers of listening to rock n' roll and watching Elvis Presley dancing.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: I like the list of warning signs given!

      Computer games don't affect kids, I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive music.

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
        IT Angle

        Re: I like the list of warning signs given!

        You've just described about a quarter of the software devs I know!

      2. Jedit
        FAIL

        "Computer games don't affect kids..."

        It's considered polite to attribute your quotes. That one is from Marcus Brigstocke, if memory serves.

        1. Lotaresco

          Re: "Computer games don't affect kids..."

          "It's considered polite to attribute your quotes. That one is from Marcus Brigstocke, if memory serves."

          Unless you are quoting Marcus Brigstocke who's so far up himself that he doesn't deserve acknowledgement.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I like the list of warning signs given!

        wait... you people don't usually running around in darkened rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive music when you're a kid?

      4. Mahhn

        Re: I like the list of warning signs given!

        That's called a Rave....

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: I like the list of warning signs given!

      "...and if he's using MD5 in a security context, give him a good spanking for not using a proper one."

    3. rochefoucauld
      Childcatcher

      Re: I like the list of warning signs given!

      The newspaper thinkpieces/hot takes about Why The Kids These Days Are Bad And Wrong, Not Like Me And My Mates Back In The Day now bemoan the fact that young people are drinking/smoking/having sex far far *less* than any other previous generation for which records were kept (probably because they're all in their bedrooms, hacking away... ). A case of damned if you do, damned if you don't for sure.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow...

    That list was definitely written by someone that just read the Which? Guide to Hacking or has skimmed the comments section of a youtube video.

    That list actually describes the average CoD player.

    It's not cool to stereotype though.

    Anyway I'm off to help some noobs get rekt in CoD and eat some reeses puffs. 420 blaze it etc.

    *snoop dog, pot leaf, doritos and air horn gifs here*

    Illuminati confirmed. Etc.

    It's time to stop!

    *does the dab and walks off as his shades slide down thin air onto his face*

  6. MrJim
    Trollface

    Is your son a computer hacker?

    http://www.adequacy.org/stories/2001.12.2.42056.2147.html

    Is your son obsessed with "Lunix"?

    BSD, Lunix, Debian and Mandrake are all versions of an illegal hacker operation system, invented by a Soviet computer hacker named Linyos Torovoltos, before the Russians lost the Cold War. It is based on a program called " xenix", which was written by Microsoft for the US government.

    1. Florida1920

      Re: http://www.adequacy.org/stories/2001.12.2.42056.2147.html

      Love the links!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This was a joke...

    ...16 years ago.

    http://www.adequacy.org/stories/2001.12.2.42056.2147.html

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: This was a joke...

      that is funny! only looked for 10 secs and saw:

      does your son use quake?

      "The hacker Crackdown" is a hacking manual

      "Flash" is hacking software

      ad infinitum

  8. Drefsab_UK

    hmm sounds like me

    This sounds very much like me as a boy growing up near Liverpool, but instead of being some criminal I was interested in computers, networking, being a sys admin and cyber security. This interest led into a productive career where I regularly work with financial institutions, if I had somehow been suspected of being a hacker and put on some watch list or pulled up to explain things that people did not understand I may have chosen a different career path.

    Half this list describes almost all teens going, the other half describes someone who understands the internet and how it works. So therefore surely you must distrust those people. You dont want people knowing about cybersecurity in this day and age. The more suspicious of us might think thats exactly what some people would want, discourage anyone knowing about security and privacy.

    1. Baldy50

      Re: hmm sounds like me

      Can't believe the guys last name! Writing a piece about Liverpudlians, cos although born on the outskirts of the city, but living in Warrington I know the nickname they called us! Is Dicky Lewis still there?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis%27s#/media/File:Lewis%27_Liverpool_1.jpg

  9. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    If...

    Monitoring tools you’ve put on the computer might suddenly stop working?

    would it be, the pot calling the kettle black?

    Please, quit using the computer as a parenting tool(ie discipline)

  10. rcorrect

    This isn't a list to describe Facebook users?

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Meh

      Re:This isn't a list to describe Facebook users?

      No.

      That would say:-

      Has your child:

      A vacuous expression on their face?

      Walked into objects, or into the road whilst on their phone?

      Ignored people talking to them, rather than txting them?

      Become rather stupid?

      and so on...

  11. DNTP

    I'd like to thank my parents

    for encouraging the sorts of independent learning that this newest guide seems to be discouraging, for supporting my interests leading to a career even if they didn't always understand what I wanted to do, and for not putting up with this kind of "warning signs of X" bullshit.

  12. creepy gecko
    Meh

    I would guess that...

    most El Reg readers would fit the majority of criteria on the list.

    I suspect it's just a journo at the Echo needing some material to fill-up a gap in their daily copy. When news is short anything will do, even if the material is ill-informed and basically a load of bollocks.

    I'm surprised the Echo didn't make it into a list of "Top Ten Ways To Spot If Your Child Is A Hacker".

  13. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    "Cyber Security Leader & Entrepreneur"

    Clearly Steve Bong!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Cyber Security Leader & Entrepreneur"

      Or some nut case.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: "Cyber Security Leader & Entrepreneur"

        There's a difference?

    2. Chris King Silver badge

      Re: "Cyber Security Leader & Entrepreneur"

      Never heard of the bloke before now. Some "leader" !

      Anyone who describes themselves as an "Entrepreneur" is rarely the real deal. It usually translates to "Twit with bad idea seeks twit with venture capital for a short and expensive relationship".

      1. Doogie Howser MD

        Re: "Cyber Security Leader & Entrepreneur"

        Not forgetting the other timeless favourite "Thought Leader". Anyone who espouses this form of arrogant bullshit should have their testes welded together.

  14. Voland's right hand Silver badge
    Facepalm

    What a load of bull

    Sigh... another idiot checklist. It does not describe a hacker. Some of it describes a k1dd10t, some of it is completely off the mark.

    In any case, if I went by the checklists, my kids would have been locked up 10 times by know preventively as definitive future criminals.

    As a parent I am PROUD of the fact that I caught my daughter trying to pick a lock on a cupboard with a paperclip at the age of 3 (she was having none of it that the scissors are locked and she cannot have them).

    I am HAPPY that she has been circumventing parental controls when she sees fit from the age of 5.

    In fact, I deliberately make any controls not as bomb proof as they could be, so that the kids can try their luck (after that I improve them if they succeed). The fact that they actually try their luck is good. This means they are thinking, it is a matter of channeling that energy, not worrying about it.

    I would be more worried if they spent all of their time watching youtube or the idiot tube (the broadcast one).

    1. frank ly
      Happy

      Re: What a load of bull

      Did you gradually introduce her to more complicated locks? Was she hotwiring your car when she was 10?

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: What a load of bull

        "Did you gradually introduce her to more complicated locks? Was she hotwiring your car when she was 10?"

        Two words: Youtube, bosnianbill *

        * prolonged exposure will definitely cause side-effects such as never trusting any lock to safeguard anything for more than ten minutes tops, most of them more like ten seconds.

    2. W4YBO

      Re: What a load of bull

      Well...did she succeed in picking the lock? If not, have you corrected her behavior technique?

  15. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    welp that's my employment ruined.

    Pretty much of it that wasn't mentioned in that seminal 90s work 'hackers' can be used to describe what is known as those in the know as 'work'. I even received monetary recompense for it to which the man known colloquially as 'her majesty's government' take their cut too.

    I'm pretty sure a large number of terms and habits can be used to describe perfectly law abiding work as well less savory stuff in equal measure. It makes me wonder sometimes if we're worth saving considering the current state of humanity.

  16. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Your children may be mathematicians

    They spend most of their free time alone with their maths

    They have few real friends, but talk extensively to online friends about maths

    Teachers say the child has a keen interest in maths, almost to the exclusion of all other subjects

    They're doing maths so much it affects their sleeping habits

    They use the language of maths with terms such as "pi" (pronounced pi), Euler, Function, lambda, axiom, proof, Galois (refers to a field rather than cigs),

    Members of the Anonymous Maths group refer to their attacks as attacks

    They refer to themselves and their friends as mathematicians or mathmos

    They have multiple email addresses

    They have an odd-sounding nickname (famous ones include Bourbaki)

    Their computer has an app called matlab which is used to access equations which have letters that are numbers

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Your children may be mathematicians

      Have an "upper" that comment is what the kids would say is "primo rad gnar gnar *cat emoji* *potato emoji*!"

      I have read the list, and lads, I think I might be one of those dreadful, I can't type it, a, a hacker! *sobs uncontrollably* To wit:

      "They use the language of hacking, with terms such as "FreeBSD" (pronounced free B S D), Coding, dildos, porking, penny whistle, moon pies, dorking out, Hashing Up (refers to cannabis, grow up, Kyle!), Keyboard, LOL, cat pix, Spank or Spanking or just anything with a butt in it. Members of the Hogwarts School of Hacking And Naughty Business refer to their attacks as "Oops, I did it again!"

      They refer to themselves and their friends as Quakers or Amish Kitties who have lost their mittens, which is code for take down the site with extreme evil bits set to 1; evil_bit=1, or just "go, daddy" but not the hosting service, just the catch phrase. Oh, and they have a hoodie! I saw it!"

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Warning signs that your civil servant is technically clueless

    1) They use "Real" or "Real Life" to contrast with "Online", because to them everything online is imaginary.

    Any more?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Warning signs that your civil servant is technically clueless

      What about 2nd Life?

      Is that still a thing? Last i remember hearing, business were setting up (virtual) shop inside it but I can't say i've heard any more about in at least the last few years.

      1. Flakk

        Re: Warning signs that your civil servant is technically clueless

        I asked that very question about six months ago. Apparently, Second Life is indeed still a thing. What's worse is that Linden Lab is apparently working on a VR-enabled successor to SL.

        God help us.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Warning signs that your civil servant is technically clueless

          Sadly, yes, second life is a part of reality. Still.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Warning signs that your civil servant is technically clueless

            Is it still full of furry/yiff?

      2. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: Warning signs that your civil servant is technically clueless

        It's still around, unfortunately.

        I remember work thinking about getting a private island, and all the things they were planning to do with it. Pointing management to some of the stuff in Something Awful's Second Life Safari killed the idea stone dead.

        1. Oengus

          Re: Warning signs that your civil servant is technically clueless

          They are employed by the civil service.

  18. Triggerfish

    So retro

    Liked it totally remind me of those nutty reefer madness guides, and the Christian ones about D&D.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: So retro

      I remember the wack jobs when D & D came out. History may not exactly repeat itself but there always seems to some kind idiotic moral panic over something the is generally harmless and actually promotes thinking and imaginations.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: So retro

        "History may not exactly repeat itself but there always seems to some kind idiotic moral panic over something the is generally harmless and actually promotes thinking and imaginations."

        Yes, because there's a always a very tiny minority who dive deeply into a new "fad" and become the poster child for anti-fun brigade.

    2. Dominic Thomas

      Re: So retro

      Yes. I remember almost identical lists from the original hacker panic in the mid-eighties.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: So retro

      "Liked it totally remind me of those nutty reefer madness guides, and the Christian ones about D&D."

      I think they were all written by the same organization, the 'society for indoctrinating the next generation'. After all, "independent learning materials' was ONE of the "signs" of becoming an _EVIL_ _HAX0R_ muahahahahaha!

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: So retro

        They do have a certain style to them, like ladybird books do.

  19. Natalie Gritpants

    Nearly got the full list

    Just need to get an onion router and I'm all set. Does a garlic press count?

    I tried to do a dab once and got my fingers stuck in a chandelier.

  20. Mad Hacker

    If my children referred to themselves as script kiddies...

    If my children referred to themselves as "script kiddies" I'd be more concerned of them being lame than being a hacker.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hackers on steriods

    Fox news report about Anonymous was 10 years ago. Nobody uses lulz anymore because it was abused by redditors and newfags

    Feel old now.

  22. Captain DaFt

    Could as easily have said:

    "Is your child intelligent, interested in technology and curious about its effects on life and the world around him?"

    "Know these warning signs and take the necessary steps to stifle mental growth and produce the type of worker drone your governments need for a pacified population!"

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Could as easily have said:

      As the late Prophet Hicks said:

      "You are free to do as we tell you."

  23. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Baldy50

      Very funny

      Maybe just streaming porn, IDK? Funny how it's OK for you that you can see a person getting killed but not..........Yah know!

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Very funny

        When a picture of a little girl who has had all her clothes and half her skin burned off by napalm is offensive, because of the lack of clothes - you need to rethink your family values

        1. arctic_haze Silver badge

          Re: Very funny

          Agreed, but if the photograph is the famous one of people escaping a napalm raid I have good news.

          The girl survived and had a relatively good life since recovering (at least comparing to most war victims). She was burned badly but luckily taken to hospital by the photographer which saved her life. She lives now in Canada

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phan_Thi_Kim_Phuc

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Optional

      You angered the Bong!

      1. VinceH Silver badge

        Re: Optional

        "You angered the Bong!"

        Someone certainly doesn't have a sense of humour didn't like my comment!

  24. OliP

    Get your kids offline immeadiately! Please ensure they are drinking white lightning in the park, mugging old people and generally loitering.

    And when they are 18 please ensure they become an alcoholic mess, and sign em up to some credit cards while your at it.

    FFS....

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ahright! Ahright! Ahright!

    Calm down.

    Ey. Ey. Ey.

    Wass goin' wi deez PCs ar kid.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Ahright! Ahright! Ahright!

      Is your child a scouser ? - Hacker parents get warning signs.

  26. Mage Silver badge

    2 out of 16 aint bad

    That's a really sad list. Arguably only maybe two items might apply.

    Someone has been watching too much TV.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    almost perfect

    Why didn't they go full twat and say in big flashy text [insert odd number] ways your child may be hacker followed with lots of similar articles with click through pics of one of the Kardashian's nearly bare ass.

  28. 9Rune5
    Terminator

    Our parents had it much easier

    Back when I was a kid, parents only had to look out for the odd case of projectile vomiting possibly mixed with one or more triple six birth marks.

    Happier times.

    Won't somebody think of the children?

  29. sjsmoto

    We need hacker kids

    Without them we wouldn't have gotten shows recorded on those old VCRs you controlled with confusing buttons on the front. Or got our car clocks reset. Or got the TV violence chip turned off.

    (Insert old-fart icon here.)

  30. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    "emerging Thought Leader"

    Who does this shit come from, and why haven't they been killed?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: "emerging Thought Leader"

      Britain may have tired of experts, but we do love a good bullshit artist.

  31. Shugyosha
    Childcatcher

    Overcomplicating it

    There's a far simpler method that I have observed through fastidious research and this very article supports my hypothesis.

    All hackers wear hoods indoors while using their PC. Does your child wear a hood indoors? You may well be harbouring a hacker. The more l33t haxxo0rz will also sit in front of a backdrop of either binary, or random code fragments.

    These are the real warning signs we should be watching for.

    1. harmjschoonhoven

      Re: Overcomplicating it

      There's a far simpler method: does your child suddenly own a BMW 4?

      For Boris, growing up here, Veles didn't have much to offer. He played soccer but later discovered that he was more proficient at the videogame version of the sport. He joined a Counter-Strike club: nine or 10 teenagers gathered in a room, sitting behind their laptops and shooting each other up. One day a couple of summers ago, Boris was walking to school when he saw a BMW 4 Series parked by the side of the road. "What the fuck?" he thought. "My favorite car is in this town?" He asked around, but no one seemed to know who owned the BMW. Later, in a café, he met a Counter-Strike acquaintance named Aleksandar Velkovski. "Aleksandar, I saw this BMW 4," Boris told him. Velkovski revealed that the car was his. He'd bought it, he said, with the money he made off his website. In Veles, Aleksandar and Borce Velkovski are so renowned for the health food website they started that they're known as the Healthy Brothers. HealthyFoodHouse.com is a jumble of diet and beauty advice, natural remedies, and other nostrums. It gorges on advertising as it counsels readers to put a bar of soap under their bedsheets to relieve nightly leg cramps or to improve their red-blood-cell count with homemade beet syrup. Somehow the website's Facebook page has drawn 2 million followers; more than 10 million unique visitors come to HealthyFoodHouse.com every month.

      Ceselkoski turned to coaching in 2011--first with a six-week classroom course in the Macedonian capital of Skopje, where he lives, and now online, in dense three-week modules. For around $425, his students learn how to prepare, populate, and promote their websites. A full third of the syllabus is dedicated to the mastery of Facebook. The Healthy Brothers once took Ceselkoski's course. Ceselkoski was visiting Las Vegas around the time of the election, and Trump's victory stunned him. He thought about the website operators in Veles. "It's possible, maybe, they changed a few percentages."

    2. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: Overcomplicating it

      Only one question required: Would you steal a policeman's helmet and go to the toilet in it?

  32. Guus Leeuw

    Vacancy at El Reg: Optional stone editor

    Dear Sir,

    Why is anybody awarding Liverpool with something for 2008 this year?

    Regards,

    Guus

  33. Winkypop Silver badge

    A what?

    "I've been described as an emerging Thought Leader in information security as I have a holistic approach to data protection."

    Excuse me while I talk to god on the great white telephone...

    1. Lamont Cranston
      Mushroom

      Re: A what?

      He owes me a new bullshit detector - this one's overloaded.

  34. LaeMing Silver badge
    FAIL

    Does your child know more about computers than the Government?

    Does your child know more about computers than the Government and their Corporate Sponsors are comfortable with?

    Can't have people knowing stuff. That's terrism.

  35. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Coat

    The 1980's called...

    they want their scare story back.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think a lot of young people in Liverpool that just found pron are going to be getting a visit from the plod.

    Who am I kidding? I'm pretty sure it'll be "I'll have some of that our kidda like, just be careful of the bizzies and don't be a divvy"

  37. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Trollface

    "Monitoring tools you've put on the computer might suddenly stop working"

    Carrie! CARRIE!

  38. VinceW

    Defending My Corner

    As the chap who talked to the Liverpool Echo about young hackers, I'm disappointed in The Register for running this article in it's current state.

    First off - the facts. I volunteer my time to help Youth Federation develop their programme to get kids interested in cyber careers. Part of our aim is to find SME cyber security companies who are local to these kids and get them to tutor and guide them. This is especially important when we're talking about kids from less privileged backgrounds (hence the current focus in the North West) and those on the Autism and Asperger's scale (as these kids traditionally fair poorly at things like exams and interviews, yet can be an incredible asset to a cyber security business).

    Last week we released a Press Release to the North West media on our scheme and the Liverpool Echo asked for some further information, including how parents can spot if their child has the talent required or is starting to become interested in hacking. The result is their article.

    The list of traits isn't just made up - it's based off a lot of work people have undertaken to find out how we can identify potential Black Hats before they get too deeply involved. Our project has talked to parents, teachers, experts in Autism, the Police (one of our people used to be a key part of TITAN, the North West Regional Cyber Crime Unit) and a number of former hackers, including ex-members of Lulzsec. And, yes, we've actually been told of instances of young kids telling teachers and parents they identify as hackers, yet those adults did not know what to do, or who to approach.

    I have no problem with the Liverpool Echo article. Whilst somewhat sensationalist, it is after all a local newspaper that understands what it's readership is looking for.

    The Register, however, is another matter. As a specialist IT news portal I would have expected someone like Alexander J Martin to have done at least *some* research before writing his article. Despite clearly having viewed my LinkedIn profile - and therefore being more than aware of how he could contact me - he decided not to and pressed ahead with his article with no thought as to why the Liverpool Echo were covering the item in the first place. This is poor, lazy journalism.

    I don't mind you mocking me personally - although I could have done without my Twitter feed going off every five minutes last night full of abuse - but we're trying to encourage kids into cyber careers by getting their parents to understand how best to support them, rather than calling the Police if their child watches an episode of Mr. Robot, and I think the tone of your article is actually very damaging in that respect.

    The Register is a respected IT news portal. Why did you see fit to denigrate the efforts of a number of hard-working people, who only have the best interests of talented, young hackers at heart, rather than supporting them? Were you offended by how I have written my LinkedIn profile? What gives? There must be some reason for your vitriol, because I can't believe for a second that The Register does not want to support a programme which is trying to prevent more children and teenagers being dragged in front of a court, when we can instead channel their skills into great careers in cyber security.

    An apology and a re-write or withdrawal of this article would be nice. Perhaps Alexander J. Martin would also like to donate some of his free time to helping young people too.

    1. The Mole

      Re: Defending My Corner

      The problem is all you have produced is a list of signs that your kid is interested in computers (actually most points are so generic they apply to most kids who go online).

      It comes across as if being a 'hacker' is bad, and therefore kids who show any of this traits are doing bad things worth worrying about. There is a difference between identifying yourself as a 'hacker' and being a criminal, a distinction that the media rarely gets. From the list I think there are only three that could possibly be worthy of concern:

      a) They can connect to the wifi of nearby houses (especially concerning if they have no legitimate reason to have the password)

      b) They claim to be making money from online computer games (many hackers get started by trying to break computer games in order to exploit flaws in the game. They will then sell these "cheats" online)

      c) They might know more than they should about parents and siblings, not being able to resist hacking your email or social media

      a: to explain that this is breaking the law,

      b: because this may well be a sign of either criminal activity or an entrepreneurial kid who should be encouraged and supported in their business venture, and

      c: as a sign they may be going too far.

      Personally I agree with The Registers stance as it feels like the (unintended) affect is feeding media hype and marginalising and demonising children (autistic or not) who happen not to be into the 'normal' things expected of children (hanging around of street corners with their gang of friends, which we all know should cause concern as that progresses to underage drinking, drugs and mugging grannies).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Defending My Corner

      You do seem to put too much emphasis on being suspicious of children who value their privacy. A full 50% of your warning signs are warnings that your child might be in the 52% of people with introverted personality types.

      Wanting privacy is normal, and tends to mean your child won't grow up to be a flasher, so it's hardly fair to make it the number one point of concern on your list.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is the world filled with Stupidity?

    We reproduce it here for stupid people that can't bother to google or read the tl;dr all over the world.

    -They spend most of their free time on the media and ads with the E logo, a colorful ball, an F, or whatever they're called

    -They said they have a lot of friends, but they never recognize them in person.

    -Teachers say the child has a zero interest in their subject, almost to the exclusion talking to everyone and everything except learning in class.

    -They walk into public objects on their phone so many times there's now a sign to tell them to stop doing it.

    -They insert random words into their conversation regardless of the content, with terms such as p**** o* s***, f***, Mo**** f***er, S** of a ****h, a**h***. Members of the group refer to their activities as "hanging out".

    -They have multiple social media profiles with one password

    -They have multiple email addresses also with the same damn password (banking included)

    -They have obvious nickname (famous one including "ImStupid" )

    -Their computer have so much software and viruses, it's like a bedroom just for viruses.

    -Monitoring tools you've put on the computer no longer works because of the sheer number of virus and trojans that are also trying to monitor them

    -They always connect to the nearby free wifi and immediately check on facebook (especially concerning)

    -They claim they can't make money because the world is sh*t and everyone else is bad.

    -They claim they know more than they should about everything and that whatever comes on facebook or the internet must be true

    -Your internet connection slows or goes off, as their devices are being used as botnets

    -Some circumstantial evidence suggests those who tell us 2+2=5 could be more vulnerable to becoming stupid

    tl;dr stop skipping the lines and read the whole damn thing before you do the same stupid thing again and again.

  40. JimC

    So, all you clever people rubbishig that list...

    Perhaps you'd like to take the opportunity to make up a list of guidelines that the not very tech savvy could use to identify whether their kids are getting into illegal activities on line... After all responsible parents do have a duty in that area, so here's your opportunity to help them.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: So, all you clever people rubbishig that list...

      If he has a modem in his bedroom

      If he has an unrealistically attractive girlfriend who he shows no sexual interest in

      If he is suddenly interested in Tic-Tac-toe / noughts-and-crosses

      If he asks you if you want to play global thermonuclear war

  41. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "...emerging Thought Leader ... holistic approach ..."

    That's an interesting way to say "avoid me at all cost."

  42. adam payne Silver badge

    *Reads list, roll eyes while reading it, shakes head after finishing the list and then bursts out laughing*

  43. Goit
    Childcatcher

    1337 pR0 h4x0R

    My son just called me a 'scrub l0l' he used a zero and everything, is he a hacker? is he having secret online discussions with Anonymous? Is he on the 'dark web' the Daily Mail said the dark web was bad and there was bad people doing bad things there!!

    Should I be panicking? should I have him euthanised? (lets just call it a 4th trimester abortion!)

  44. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "I've been described as an emerging Thought Leader in information security as I have a holistic approach to data protection."

    And I just threw up in my mouth a little.

  45. Peter Mc Aulay

    Honestly...

    I eagerly await the day my children break my network security. Or discover the stash of philes from my BBS days. They're not going to listen to their dad, that would be lame - I mean, did you? But they can learn from the same sources I did.

    Then, of course, I will roll out the real security. Don't play all of your cards at once.

  46. Dropper

    Forget the kids.. turns out I'm probably a hacker.. but I'm keeping calm, I've yet to find a smoking gun. I'll just keep monitoring my internet activity for suspicious behaviour.. be a bit of a bummer to have to turn myself in though.

  47. arctic_haze Silver badge

    A real hacker

    I talked once to a guy on a J1 visa. He was a foreign security expert. He said his job description on the visa was actually HACKER. Because someone disbelieved him, he brought the actual paperwork. Yes, he has been invited officially to the US to do a hacker job. And from what I know, he was getting paid quite well.

  48. d3vy Silver badge

    They missed the best nick names.

    Acid burn

    Cerial killer

    Zero cool

    And of course crash override (I heard he crashed 17000 computers in one day)

  49. d3vy Silver badge

    Oh.. I almost forgot about Mr the plague.

  50. Sam Therapy
    Unhappy

    Nice to see the Thought Police are still operating.

    My son has Autism, possibly Asperger's. No doubt he'll be singled out for special attention when he gets older.

    What a fucking world.

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