“Anonymous” recruited this 12yo to hack — and to teach even younger kids his tricks — in return for free video games. Not much classier than a perv in a van offering free candy, really.
Why does Anonymous want Canadian kids? Canada’s YCJA laws (formerly the Young Offenders Act) prohibits the criminal prosecution of children 12 and under. In practise, children in the 12-14 age bracket often get let off with warnings or parental fines. Elder teens have their records sealed when they turn 18, so their crimes don’t follow them into adulthood. Consequently, there’s no real downside for the kids themselves – if they’re charged at all, eventually the convicted teen offender gets a clean slate.
So the 9-12 age group that Anonymous seems to exploit here really is the perfect target: Old enough to learn the tricks but too young to realize the implications, these kids can keep right on hacking for almost a decade without much in the way of consequences.
Moreover, the security types just don’t expect to be looking for a child culprit – so kids are the perfect U-boat approach. In fact, using kids to lure kids will remind many Canadians of a certain age about the PB-HK serial sex-torture-murder case where the wife rode along in the abduction vehicle to allay suspicion by the female victims they approached.
Thus Anonymous has joined that illustrious group of dealers, warlords, and terrorists who exploit kids, and the kids’ legal status, for their own gain.
And it seems some folks aren’t smarter than that fifth-grader, at least when it comes to hacking. He defeated targets such as the Montreal Police and the Chilean government, plus a few “non-public” websites (although it’s unclear from the reporting today whether these were Darknet sites or merely gray government sites).
If Anonymous wants to retain its general public supporters, however, it needs adult up and do its own dirty work. Especially in Canada, where the Khadr case of child exploitation remains vivid.
Do not mess with the polar bear’s cubs. Canada is home to a lot of frighteningly clever computer boffins and crossing that line just isn’t the smart way to go. Even when, like Anonymous, you’re clearly not worried about the ethics, it always pays to note when your adversaries – and more importantly, your supporters – do.