To Halt Hackers, Find Them Dates

Let's focus on outreach, not punishment: Matthew Schwartz
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2012 4:53 PM CDT
To Halt Hackers, Find Them Dates
Hackers tend to stop hacking as they get older and their lives get fuller, says one psychologist.   (Shutterstock)

Hackers tend to abandon their lawbreaking ways as they get older and other concerns—girlfriends, families, careers—take precedence. Indeed, most hackers appear to be under 25; few "remain life-course persistent," says one"cyberpsychology" expert. That prompts Matthew Schwartz to wonder: Could we stop hacking early by finding girlfriends for the perpetrators? (He admits the suggestion is offered "tongue in cheek," but says there's an element of truth behind it.) More realistically, "might outreach programs, perhaps involving older ex-hackers, help keep them out of jail?" he asks in InformationWeek.

Such programs could be targeted at hackers in their early 20s, which seem to be "an inflection point in most hackers' lives." Most are young guys who "are desperately trying to assert their own independence, and believe they can make a change in the world that their parents can't," the expert adds. They often see what they're doing as a harmless protest, since "it doesn't feel like committing a crime," she notes. Schwartz's suggestion: Instead of locking hackers up after the fact, get older former hackers to teach them "about the risks"—and perhaps help them put their skills to better use, like figuring out ways to stop other hackers. Click through for the full piece. (Read more hackers stories.)

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