If your child uses Kali Linux, Tor, VMs or WiFi Pineapple, the police will consider them a future cybercriminal

Much of the intelligence work of law enforcement agencies is based on prevention and prospective tasks on criminal activity (especially on cybersecurity issues) although in many cases the strategies implemented could be considered coercive, exaggerated, or even authoritarian.

An example of this is an outreach material issued by the Regional Organized Crime Unit of the West Midlands Police, United Kingdom. Through this material, the authorities suggest that the use of operating systems and tools such as Kali Linux, the Tor browser, the Discord forum, among others, could lead young British people to problems with the law in the future.

Any user familiar with cybersecurity, knows that some of these tools are used for multiple tasks related to hacking (whether ethical or criminal hacking). As if that weren’t enough, in this poster the authorities advise parents to check if any of these applications are on their children’s computer; “If you see these programs on a minor’s computer, or think they’re involved in hacking issues, let us know to advise you what you can do,” the controversial message concludes.

Such posters were pasted in multiple schools in the region. The promotional material includes the official logo of the UK National Crime Agency (NCA); however, this organization has already defaced its elaboration.

While the Kali Linux operating system is employed in multiple ethical hacking activities, and the Tor browser provides complete anonymity and access to sites out of conventional web, many cybersecurity enthusiasts found it strange that the authorities had included Discord among these apps, as this is a group chat platform used mainly by the gamer community, which demonstrates the ignorance in these topics of those who drew the poster.

The controversy even reached the official Twitter account of the Kali Linux system: “We all know that the easiest way to get a child to do something is to tell them not to do it, as well as list a series of items that they should not interact with”, posted in an ironic tone the account manager.

It is true that criminal hacking has become one of the main concerns for law enforcement agencies; however, it is necessary for government agencies to be aware of the real threats, before spreading misinformation that could impact on the interests of those interested in learning about technology.