Launch of Europol Pathways Project

13 April 2016

Paladin Capital announces funding for research into the motivations of young people to become cybercriminals

Fernando Ruiz Perez, Head of Operations Europol European Cybercrime Centre EC3, Dr Mary Aiken, Adjunct Associate Professor UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy, Dr. Philipp Amann, Senior Strategic Analyst Europol European Cybercrime Centre EC3 , Alex O Cinneide ‎Managing Director and Head of Europe Paladin Capital Group


  • Paladin is funding a consortium of high profile university academics supported by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3)
  • Research to raise awareness of cyber juvenile delinquency (teenage hackers) and make policy recommendations to better protect young people from becoming involved in cybercrime

London 7th April 2016. Paladin Capital Group, a Washington DC based private equity firm specialising in cyber security, announces today at Europol’s EC3 Academic Advisory Network Annual Conference that it is funding a research project called “Young People and Pathways into CyberCrime”. The research will be provided by high profile academics from Middlesex London University, Hawaii Pacific University and University College Dublin Geary Institute and supported by Europol’s EC3

The research will investigate what leads young people to cyber-criminality in order to develop effective awareness, prevention, intervention, educational and mentoring strategies. Specifically it will explore the potential pathway from cyber juvenile delinquency, to lone cyber criminal to organised cyber crime. Law enforcement have reported that young people, particularly IT literate teenagers are increasingly committing cybercrime offences ranging from money laundering for criminal gangs to high profile hacking. In 2015, a UK telecommunications company had a security breach and lost valuable data. Five suspects were arrested in connection with the investigation, all aged between 15 and 20 years old. In a separate case, a British teenager who worked as a ‘hacker for hire’ was spared a prison sentence after having orchestrated cyber attacks targeting global institutions from his bedroom. This teenager was just 13 when he joined a network of online hackers.

The consortium of academics will report their findings and recommendations in September 2016 including a white paper to help shape governments’ policies on preventing juvenile cybercrime; inform educational awareness in schools and colleges and develop best practice for police across a range of cyber offences (i.e. financial, gang, extortion). The aim is to find positive alternatives for teenagers. 

Michael Steed, Managing Partner, Paladin Capital said, “We want this research to create a context for addressing the human factors behind cybercrime, amongst young people in particular. We want to contribute to a greater societal understanding of this new challenge and help find solutions through better education and policies. We need to protect kids with exceptional IT skills from becoming victims of cyber gangs, or getting involved in criminal acts. This research is central to Paladin’s Cyber-CSR program (Corporate Social Responsibility) and we will share the outputs with governments, law enforcement agencies and interested parties.”  

Steven Wilson, Head of Europol EC3 (European Cyber Crime Centre) said, “I see enormous value in EC3 Academic Advisory Network’s project researching youth pathways into cybercrime. I am continually saddened by the arrest of tech talented children who drift into cybercrime. We need to help schools identify their immense talents at an early stage, and develop them within the education system so that they help fill the skills gap in cyber security and create valuable assets for Europe, and society in general.”

Professor Dr Mary Aiken, acting as academic adviser on psychology to Europol’s EC3 said, “As a society we know a lot about real-world criminality but very little about cyber criminality and cyber juvenile delinquency - the ways in which our young people are being drawn into or engaging with cybercrime, at a younger and younger age. We need to develop the tools to identify tech talented kids at the earliest possible age, and then ensure we have the right strategies within our educational system to develop, nurture and mentor them. This research is a serious academic exercise produced by leaders in the field and, importantly, it is focused on producing outputs that will start to shape government policy, policing methods and broader understanding in school and families.” 



About Paladin Capital Group

Paladin Capital Group was founded in 2001 and has offices in Washington DC, Silicon Valley, New York and London. It is a worldwide leader in investments in cyber and digital infrastructure resilience having completed over 40 cyber related transactions over the last decade.  As a multi-stage investor, Paladin focuses on best of breed companies with technologies, products and services that meet the challenging global cyber security and digital infrastructure needs for governments as well as commercial companies.  Paladin has over $1 billion of committed capital across multiple funds.



Established in 2015, the EC3 AAN is an academic advisory network or ‘think tank’ comprised of an international group of thought leaders and leading academic experts tasked with advising EC3 on pertinent trends and developments in cyber contexts and on key cybersocietal issues. The Network also helps identify research questions informed by predicted cyber trends and developments that can be explored via short-term and mid-term EC3 commissioned research projects.

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