Image showing Cyber Choices logo on a black background.

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 to:

*                   Educate on the Computer Misuse Act 1990 and the possible consequences should they break the law.
*                   Encourage individuals to make informed choices about their use of technology
*                   Deter and/or divert individuals from cyber crime
*                   Promote legal and positive cyber opportunities 

What you need to know

So what is cyber crime?

Cyber offences are committed when someone is using a computer or other digital technology. There are two main types of cyber offences - There’s ‘Illegal hacking’ also known as cyber-dependent crime, where someone gains access to another person’s computer network or device without permission. The other type is where technology has been used to enhance another crime, like fraud. This Is also known as cyber-enabled crime.

Examples of illegal hacking/cyber-dependent crime include:

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

Are you a parent , guardian , carer or teacher? Click here to find out more.
Image showing the Level Up logo in black

Whether you learn it at school or read about it online, it is hard not to notice that the cyber world is expanding and new technologies conquer our lives. 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 £36,903 whereas in tech industry, the average is £53,318. Specialised tech roles, that use cutting-edge kit, are particularly in demand and the average for that is £85,894.

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. Cyber crime is taken very seriously by law enforcement. So make sure you're aware of the debuffs to your future that can come with committing cyber crime, and boost your skills so you can level up, in a legal way.

Data source - https://technation.io/news/2020-uk-tech-sector-data/

Consequences

Make no mistake, cyber crime is a serious criminal offence. Law Enforcement will make every effort to arrest and prosecute offenders.

Anyone (including young people) who commits cyber crime could face:

- A visit and warning from police or NCA officers

- A Cease and Desist visit from police or NCA officers

- Computers being seized and being prevented from accessing the internet

- A penalty or fine

- Being arrested

- Up to life in prison for the most serious offences

You really don’t want a permanent criminal record, which could seriously affect your education and future career prospects. You also wouldn’t want anything that might hinder any potential overseas travel you have in mind.

So if you want to level up your knowledge of cyber crime, make sure you’re fully aware of the Computer Misuse Act.  

Link to Welsh version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oR2oKCHn1w 

Resources

Using cyber skills positively

With great tech knowledge, comes great responsibility, and great opportunities too. People with impressive cyber skills are in high demand. Not just in the UK but also abroad, which means that young people may have an opportunity to travel to new places whilst learning new cyber skills. Plus you get to the chance to play with all the latest tech whilst making a name for yourself in the digital space. So if you’re interested in tech, don’t miss your chance to level up.

The Cyber Choices programme was created to help people make informed choices and to use their cyber skills in a legal way. If you’re looking for more information specific to you, then download one of these helpful leaflets.

pdf Under 12 years old (1.57 MB)

- pdf 12 to 17 years old (4.25 MB)

- pdf Over 18 years old (1.44 MB)

- pdf Introduction to the Computer Misuse Act 1990 (426 KB)

pdf Developmental Resources (338 KB)

Further Developmental Resources

It’s well known that many children under the age of 12 are becoming tech savvy and have access to various technologies. A great source of information to teach them legal ways to use tech, is  the Barefoot Programme. It enables primary school teachers (KS1 & 2) to deliver the computer curriculum effectively and in an entertaining way. Barefoot offer free face-to-face workshops, helpful online guides and engaging lessons. Why not check it out here.

Fancy a cyber challenge in a safe and legal environment? Why not try one of these online resources to test your skills and see if you can level up.

Cyber Security Challenge UK

OverTheWire

FutureLearn

Career Resources

Already interested in a career in the digital world? Then find out about what jobs within the tech industry match your skills. There are job profiles too where GCHQ staff talk about what they get up to in their role. You can also find out more about GCHQ’s CyberFirst programme for University Students, Apprenticeships and Summer Schools for teenagers. 

GCHQ Careers 

All the third party websites listed are publicly available for personal development. They are not necessarily endorsed, supported or monitored by the NCA or UK Law Enforcement.

All links and web addresses were checked and verified to be correct at the time of publication

Find out about our positive stories HERE

Image showing Cyber Choices logo on a black background.  

Parents / Guardians / Carers

Children are becoming more and more immersed in communications and computing technology, including phones, tablets, laptops, PCs, game consoles, TVs, and of course, the internet.

Many young people are curious and want to explore how these things work, how they interact with each other and what vulnerabilities they have. 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 £36,903 whereas in tech industry, the average is £53,318. Specialised tech roles are particularly in demand and the average for that is £85,894. However, some young people are vulnerable and make poor choices and use such skills illegally, often in ignorance of the law. The average age of someone convicted for cyber crime offences is much younger than other crime types; offenders are often teenagers.

It’s important for us to understand why more young people are becoming involved in cyber crime.  This enables us to ensure that proper deterrents and alternative opportunities are available to people, so  that they can enhance their skills and use them positively.

  pdf Click here (1.87 MB) for more information on how to guide your young individual/s towards using their skills legally.

Positive stories

Case study 1:

After hacking the school IT systems Sam came to the attention of the police. As part of their engagement with the police, it was decided that Sam would benefit from education on the law through the Cyber Choices programme. They really engaged with the programme so they were offered work experience with a cybersecurity organisation. Whilst there they learnt how their skills could be put to good use and the type of damage their behaviour could have caused. At the end, Sam was offered a paid contract for 4 hours a week during the school term and up to 8 hours a week in school holidays.

Case study 2:

Alex downloaded the WannaCry virus onto a college computer. Thankfully it didn’t spread any further. The incident was referred to the police and they have since been expelled from that college. They decided not to press charges againt Alex and a Cease & Desist visit, was carried out instead. Alex was then placed on the Cyber Choices programme. Over time, Alex was able to show a good understanding of the law and a lowered risk that he would commit cyber crime and ended up working for a cyber security company in IT maintenance and now has a bright future.

Case study 3:

Jamie was at the point of being excluded from school. This was due to the misuse of school computers and continually bypassing protection controls. Jamie also gained unauthorised access to systems and computer material. Jamie was placed on the Cyber Choices programme, where officers explained the law and why it is important to follow the school IT regulations. Once it was understood why rule breaking was unacceptable and what that meant in terms of the law, there was a distinct change in their behaviour.  Jamie ended up using these IT skills to help the school IT team to find vulnerabilities in the school network, so that they could better protect the school. Jamie’s knowledge for IT has helped gain a place at college to further develop these abilities by studying Network Security.

Teachers

Young people with an aptitude for coding or hacking have a choice to make.  Help your students take the legal route with their skills.

If your student has an interest in computers/technology, it’s important to have a discussion with them about their use of it. Recognising and engaging with this interest may encourage them to follow the correct pathway.

If you’re concerned, talk to your student about the importance of honesty, legality and the consequences of being involved in cyber crime. Explain the enjoyable, financially rewarding and legal options 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.

pdf Click here (1.96 MB) for more information on how to guide your students towards using their skills legally.

Cyber Choices in collaboration with the education partners have developed lesson plans which explore cyber crime, decision making and victim awareness:

PSHE Association – Click Here

Barefoot – Click Here

Resources

People with impressive cyber skills are in high demand. Not just in the UK but also abroad, which means that young people may have an opportunity to travel to new places whilst learning new cyber skills. The Cyber Choices Network was created to help people make informed choices and to use their cyber skills in a legal way. If you’re looking for more information specific to you, then download one of these helpful leaflets:

pdf Parents/Guardians/Carers Leaflet (1.87 MB)

pdf Teachers Leaflet (1.96 MB)

pdf The Law and Consequences of Breaking It Leaflet (426 KB)

pdf Development Resources Leaflet (338 KB)

 

Cyber Choices in collaboration with the education partners have developed lesson plans which explore cyber crime, decision making and victim awareness:

PSHE Association

Barefoot

 

If you require a downloadable version of any of the videos on this webpage for professional or education purposes, please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Working alongside CREST, the National Crime Agency have produced a  discussion paper around young people’s pathways into cybercrime:

Identify, Intervine, Inspire report

What to do if you are 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 resources above.  For further information, advice or assistance, please contact the Cyber Choices team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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 explotation, please visit the thinkuknow website where advise can be found.

For non-fraud or cybercrime 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.