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11 signs your kid is hacking -- and what to do about it

Roger A. Grimes | July 7, 2016
Here’s how to find out if your child is involved in malicious online activity -- before the authorities do

Young hackers usually end up getting hacked by others, either from their own hacking groups or other hacking groups. Once they've been actively targeted and broken into once or twice, they will often concentrate on their own defenses. You'll see firewalls they've downloaded and configured (the built-in ones aren't enough in their eyes) and proxies (to hide their IP address or ports), and they will be scanning all the computers in the house for vulnerabilities, which they will admonish you to fix.

My stepson even let us know he had called the cable company and gotten us a new IP address. When I asked why, he told me that hackers were attacking us. I wondered why that might be, but then again the firewall was always showing hundreds to thousands of unauthorized probes and packets every day anyway. What I didn't know was that he was engaged in an all-out cyberwar with a competing hacking group.

6. You overhear them using hacking terms

Every generation has its slang, in part to keep older generations from catching on to what's being said. As with unknown file names above, it's worth looking up what you hear to get an inkling. And if what comes back is computer hacking slang -- "pwnd sites," "DDoS," "doxing," and the like -- pay attention.

7. Your internet provider tells you to stop hacking

One sad fact of the internet is that nary a day goes by without some inexplicable communication from an entity you either don't know or can't quite be sure is legit. At least a few times when my stepson was in a computer hacking gang, I received emails from strangers and our internet provider warning me that if I continued hacking I would have my internet connection terminated or even face criminal and civil actions and fines.

Of course, at the time I didn't know my stepson was a hacker, so I was caught completely off guard. I got angry and confrontational. I asked for details, and when I got them, I was livid because none of the websites, email addresses, or IP addresses had anything to do with me. I may have even threatened to take my own civil action against our cable provider if they cut us off.

It wasn't until the third such call in a year that I noticed my stepson listening to my half of the conversation and then trying to shrink into the background. That's when I realized there may have been a culprit in the living room. I distinctly remember cupping the phone so the cable rep couldn't hear and asking my stepson if he was hacking anyone. Up until that point I was clueless. He responded, "What?" And then, "Maybe."


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