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Teenage Hacking: A Double Edged Sword!


Teenagers have involved in various hacking activities from several years. However, their destiny greatly depends upon their intent on usage of cybersecurity skills.

As a kid or teenager, when most of us are trying to understand the bright and fun side of the cyber world, there are some children who are busy researching the dark side of the cyber world for fun and curiosity. We’re talking about cyber hacking in this article.

Latest Incident on Teen Ethical Hacking
Recently, a teen hacker claimed to have seized control of several Tesla cars throughout the world. The software vulnerability, according to David Colombo, a self-described IT professional, allows him to unlock doors and windows, start cars without keys, and disable the car’s security systems.

In a series of tweets, a 19-year-old security researcher claims to have remotely hacked into more than 25 Tesla cars in 13 countries, claiming to have identified a software vulnerability in the EV pioneer’s systems. Colombo also claimed to be able to detect the presence of a driver, activate the vehicles’ stereo systems, and flash their headlights.

However, the teen didn’t go into details of the software flaw, but stated it wasn’t related to Tesla’s software or infrastructure, and that only a small number of Tesla customers were affected globally. His Twitter thread received a lot of attention, with over 800 retweets.

Colombo did not immediately respond to a message requesting comment on Twitter and also Tesla’s Chinese representative declined to comment. Tesla has a vulnerability disclosure platform, according to a online source, where security researchers can register their own vehicles for testing, which Tesla can pre-approve. For a qualifying vulnerability, the Tesla pays up to $15,000.

Colombo later tweeted that he had contacted Tesla’s security team and that they were looking into the security flaw. He was told that the team would later contact him with any updates.

Teenagers Involved in Unethical Hacking
One of the high profile hacking involving three teenage hackers is about the July 15 hack of Twitter which was reported in 2020. 130 Twitter accounts was hijacked through a social engineering attack, including those belonging to former President Barack Obama, Apple, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Joe Biden. KrebsOnSecurity reported that “the bitcoin accounts associated with the scam received more than 400 transfers totaling more than $100,000.”

The FBI reported on July 31 that three individuals had been charged for their roles in the incident, which included Mason John Sheppard, 19, of Bognor Regis (U.K.); Nima Fazeli, 22, Orlando, Florida (U.S.); and Graham Ivan Clark, 17, Tampa, Florida (U.S.)

However, later on The CoinTelegraph reported that Clark may not have been the only juvenile involved in the cyberattack. According to The New York Times, a 16-year-old from Massachusetts may have also played a “major part” in the attack.

Choosing Good Over Evil
There are several cases of legit teenage hackers who have applied their cybersecurity skills for and constructive use and also there are many incidents on teen hackers going through the court cases for crimes that were committed for malicious intent.

As a matter of fact, the eternal fight between good versus evil or rather ethical and unethical hacker is inevitable. The thin red line that divides the white hat hacker and black hat hacker is their intent or the motive.

While the teenagers gets to study the cybersecurity aspects in their early years, it’s up to the parents, teachers and mentors to direct the child to the constructive aspects of cybersecurity to serve their interests. The teen hackers can use their skills not only to gain knowledge and experience, they can also gain recognition and money by participating in several bug bounty programs. Bug bounty programs make it possible for teenage white hats to put their skills to use in positive ways by identifying cybersecurity vulnerabilities and bugs.

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