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23% of university students have hacked into an IT system

Facebook profiles are most popular accounts to hack

Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of university students have successfully hacked into IT systems, says Tufin Technologies.

Research by the security firm revealed that of those that successfully hacked into a system, 40 percent were over 18.

While 84 percent of students surveyed said they knew hacking were wrong, nearly a third (32 percent) said it was also 'cool' and worryingly, 28 percent said they found it easy to hack into an IT system.

More than one in five (22 percent) said they hacked out of 'curiousity' while 15 percent said they did it to make money.

Facebook accounts were the most popular system to hack, with 37 percent of those that hacked admitting to gaining unauthorised access to profiles on the social network, closely followed by email accounts (26 percent) and online shopping accounts (10 percent).

More than a third (39 percent) use their own PC for hacking activities, while 32 percent said they used a machine belonging to a university and 23 percent utilised a PC in an internet café.

Furthermore, 46 percent of hackers has experienced a security breach either of their own social networking profile or email account.

"It is clear we have a smart new generation emerging who understand how to get round computer systems – some are doing it just for fun others with slightly more sinister intent! peaking about these findings," said Shaul Efraim from Tufin Technologies.

"It's imperative that we begin to educate this generation about the good, the bad and the ugly side of the internet and channel these skills appropriately and legally."

Efraim added it would be good to see these individuals pursue a career in the security sector to ensure all organisations "benefit from their obvious ability to strengthen security systems and stop data breaches" - whether they're seven or 70.

See also: A quarter of teens have tried hacking

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