Helping you choose the

right and legal path.

The Cyber Choices programme was created to help people make informed choices and to use their cyber skills in a legal way.

This is a national programme co-ordinated by the National Crime Agency and delivered by Cyber Choices teams within Regional Organised Crime Units and Local Police Force Cyber Teams.
The aims of the programme are:
  • Explaining the difference between legal and illegal cyber activity
  • Encouraging individuals to make informed choices in their use of technology
  • Increasing awareness of the Computer Misuse Act 1990
  • Promoting positive, legal cyber opportunities
What you need to know
 

Cyber offences are committed when someone is using a computer or other digital technology. There are two main types of cyber offences - cyber-enabled crime and cyber-dependent crime. Cyber-enabled crime is where technology has been used to enhance another crime, like fraud. Cyber Choices deals with cyber-dependent crimes which are offences that can only be committed through the use of technology, where the devices are both the tool for committing the crime and the target of the crime.

The Computer Misuse Act 1990 outlines the law around cyber-dependent crime. Examples of this legislation include:

Section 1

Unauthorised access to computer material.

Adam watches a friend entering their username and password. Adam remembers their login details and without their permission, later logs in and reads all their messages.

Section 2

Unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offences.

Raj’s teacher leaves their tablet on their desk. Without their permission, Raj accesses their online shopping account and buys items with the attached credit card.

Section 3

Unauthorised acts with intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing, operation of a computer.

Sarah is playing an online game with a friend who scores higher than her. Sarah uses a 'Booter' tool knowing it will knock them offline, so she can win the game.

Section 3ZA

Unauthorised acts causing, or creating risk of, serious damage.

Kim hacks a phone company. This hack stops some people phoning the Police when they are in danger. They didn’t mean for this to happen but they were reckless.

Section 3A

Making, supplying or obtaining articles for use in offence under Sections 1, 3 or 3ZA.

Robin downloads software so they can bypass login credentials and hack into a friend’s laptop, however they’ve not had a chance to use it yet.

 
 
For young people
 
 
 
 

Those with a real interest in how tech works could have a bright future ahead. Skills in coding, gaming, cyber security or anything digital-related, are in high demand, not just in the UK but also abroad which means that young people may have an opportunity to travel to interesting places whilst learning new cyber skills.

Unfortunately, the digital world can also be tempting for young people for the wrong reasons. Many are getting involved in cyber crime without realising that they are breaking the law. This can have serious consequences for someone’s broader future and not just their career.

For parents, guardians or carers
 
 
 
 

Many young people are curious and want to explore how technology works, what vulnerabilities it has and how it interacts with other technologies. This can include learning to code or experimenting with tools discovered online.

These are great skills to have and the cyber security industry needs more people with them. Those with a real interest in how tech works could have a bright future ahead. Skills in coding, gaming, cyber security or anything digital-related, are in high demand. The average salary in the UK is £29,800 whereas in the tech industry, the average is £65,000. Specialised tech roles are particularly in demand and the average for those salaries can be tens of thousands higher!

For teachers
 
 
 
 

If your student has an interest in computers and technology, it could be valuable to encourage them to develop their skills as cyber industry professionals are in high demand. Those with a real interest in how tech works could have a bright future ahead. However, it’s important to have a discussion with them about using their skills legally and the consequences of becoming involved in cyber crime. Recognising and engaging with this interest may encourage them to follow the correct and legal pathway.

There are plenty of financially rewarding and legal careers available to them. These include coding, engineering, web development, penetration testing, security operations, law enforcement, legal hacking and many more roles in both the public and private sectors.

What to do if you're concerned
 

If you're worried about someone, speak to them about legal ways for using technology and the internet, the consequences of cyber crime and show them positive ways to use their skills with the resources above. For further information, advice or assistance, please contact the Cyber Choices team at cyberchoices@nca.gov.uk.

Information you provide will be held in confidence. However, If criminal offences or risks of harm are reported to us, we may pass that information on to appropriate partners, if necessary.

If you believe you have been a victim of cyber crime then please report this to Action Fraud. If you are a business, charity or other organisation which is currently suffering a live cyber attack (in progress) please call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 .

If you are concerned about online child abuse and exploitation, please visit the thinkuknow website where advice can be found.

For non-fraud or cyber crime related crime reporting please call 101.

In all emergencies or instances where you feel you or others are in imminent danger or at risk of serious harm, call 999.