Crazy study claims cheat codes and mods push kids towards cyber crime

Chris Harrison via Flickr. Click for original.

Chris Harrison via Flickr. Click for original. (Image credit: Chris Harrison via Flickr)

Somewhere out there is a snot-nosed brat in training to be a cyber criminal. With no regard for anyone but himself, this pint-sized PC player is looking up cheat codes for whatever game he happens to be playing, and as we all know, cheat codes are basically gateway drugs to a life of cyber crime. Or at least that's the bat-shit crazy findings of new report by U.K.'s National Crime Agency (NCA).

Okay, we might be over sensationalizing things a hair, but in all fairness, the report itself is sensational. The researchers who wrote it make that claim that the accessibility of cheat codes and game mods make it easy for young people to develop criminal skills and more prone to hacking chat rooms, CNBC reports.

The report is based on conversations between NCA researchers and young offenders. What the researchers took away from those chats is that kids-turned-cyber criminals are motivated by a sense of "completing a challenge" and a need to prove themselves to peers.

Less controversial is the finding that easy-to-follow online tutorials for remote access Trojans, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and malware in general opens the door for less skilled users to conduct cyber crime. 

So, what can be done about the scourge of cheat codes and mods among young gamers? Get to them early and give them a job in gaming.

"There is great value in reaching young people before they ever become involved in cyber crime, when their skills can still be a force for good. The aim of this assessment has been to understand the pathways offenders take, and identify the most effective intervention points to divert them towards a more positive path," the head of the National Cyber Crime Unit's Prevent team said. "That can be as simple as highlighting opportunities in coding and programming, or jobs in the gaming and cyber industries, which still give them the sense of accomplishment and respect they are seeking."

There you have it. Before you punish your offspring for modding the hell out of Skyrim, check to see if Bethesda is hiring.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).