Two young British hackers are awaiting sentencing for their part in a widely-publicised hack on telecom firm TalkTalk in 2015.
The young British hackers hacked into TalkTalk’s website and stole personal and financial details of a TalkTalk customer.
The TalkTalk data breach, for which the British hackers are awaiting sentencing on 31 May, cost the company between £40 million and £45 million as well as a total of 101,000 customers in the third quarter of 2015. Thanks to the hack, as many as 157,000 of TalkTalk’s subscribers were affected and more than 15,000 bank account numbers were stolen.
Christopher Graham, the then Information Commissioner, termed the TalkTalk data breach as a ‘car crash‘ and said the data breach should “put the fear of God” in to other telecoms firms and make them check their own systems for vulnerabilities. TalkTalk has since won over a majority of its subscribers by offering an unconditional apology as well as through free offerings.
Matthew Hanley and Connor Allsopp, the British hackers in question, played a small part in as many as 14,000 hacking attempts on TalkTalk’s website. It all started when a 17-year old computer geek discovered a potential flaw in the firm’s online security and posted the same on hacker forums. Eager hackers pounced on the opportunity. According to the BBC, the teenage geek told magistrates that he was “just showing off” to his mates.
The concept of ‘showing off’ was recently addressed by a report from the National Crime Agency. The report highlighted risks associated with teenagers getting involved in cyber-crime and how to prevent them from indulging in the said crimes.
“The NCCU’s research to date suggests that individuals at risk of becoming involved in illegal online activity may be as young as 12. They are likely to have a deep interest in technology, often first sparked by an enthusiasm for gaming; and are likely to spend a large and increasing proportion of their lives online. In some cases when these individuals have been contacted via a home visit, parents and carers are frequently amazed to discover they have been engaging in illegal activity, because they spend so much time in their bedrooms,” says the report.
The NCA also stressed that financial gain is not a major motivator for such teenagers. In fact, those using coding skills to steal “are not necessarily admired within these communities.” The major motivations are either to further political ends, fulfilling an interesting challenge or gaining respect within the community.
Yesterday, Adam Mudd, a twenty-year-old British hacker, was sentenced to two years in jail for creating a DDoS software- a potent cyber-crime weapon, which he sold to other cyber-criminals and used it himself to crash his college’s servers multiple times.