Infosec people use the term "script kiddies" to describe youngsters being a nuisance online, often criminally so. That's a derogatory term, which means the kids in question simply grab a piece of code from someone or somewhere and run it with no real idea what it does, or its effects.

No real skills needed, unlike hackers who understand and write code, and devise novel exploits. They're young too, in their early teens and most often male.

Script kiddies or skiddies have been around for almost as long as computers and the internet have, because it's so easy to sit behind a screen, removed from the real world and immediate consequences, and do mischief.

Things have changed quite a bit in SkiddieLand over the years. The mindless attacks are still there, but there are now many more targets thanks to everything being connected and heaps more data going online with scant thought given to security.


A new enterprising type of script kiddie has evolved too, one that sets up cyber crime businesses online.

Services and products provided by such businesses can be malware that locks up victims' computers and blackmails them to restore access or it can be "booter" or "stresser" sites that are used to launch denial of service attacks against internet connected systems.

The latter category of business is particularly nefarious. In that model, SuperSkiddies sell access to denial of service tools that send rubbish data and requests to websites to take them down.

Other script kiddies buy access to run the DoS tools and direct them at gaming sites that have blocked them for being abusive, or at their schools for having given them home detention. Sometimes there's blackmail involved, as site operators are hit up for money to avoid disruptions to their businesses.

Needless to say that kind of business isn't going to last long, as a young UK booter site operator and 34 of his customers discovered.

Grant Manser of Kidderminster in Worcestershire lasted two years in the booter business, and was arrested in 2014 and sentenced in April this year.

Since Manser used Paypal to sell subscriptions for his denial of service attack packages, it was relatively easy for police in the UK, Europe, the US and Australia to track him down.

Manser had his day in court, and police arrested 34 of his customers, with a further 101 receiving cautions. Most of the people are under 20. Those numbers indicate that there is a real problem, and it's one that we as a society need to address sooner rather than later.


More police raids on young people in their homes and harsher punishments are unlikely to make a difference.

If you're unscrupulous, it's easy to exploit bored kids who don't understand or care about the consequences they could face and make a decent packet out of them at the same time.

More police raids on young people in their homes and harsher punishments are unlikely to make a difference.

Police in Europe are taking the skiddie problem seriously, not the least because the youngsters rampaging through networks and computer systems cause real damage that costs millions to fix.

There are public awareness campaigns and the police try to talk to parents about what their children are doing.

Having the police handle this is an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff solution though. We should do everything possible to make sure kids are not on the police radar, because once they're there, they'll stay on it.

Parents and schools getting involved before the police is a better idea, and I've suggested this before.


Unfortunately, that requires an understanding of technology which often isn't there and a different message than cool keyboard gangsters in hoodies cruising around cyberspace hacking for fun and profit.

You can do good things with IT and networks, really cool stuff that bring in heaps more money than criminal activities.

They require effort and thoughtfulness though, and hammering that into your average 14-year-old boy will be an uphill struggle.

There's no real alternative though. If we don't do it, businesses, governments and others fed up with constant attacks and wanton destruction will launch real world denial of service attacks on the kids and put them through the legal meat mincer.

That's one unexpected side-effect of technology we should try to avoid.