Hacking is ensnaring teenagers who would otherwise be unlikely to be involved in traditional crime, says a National Crime Agency report.
It aims to understand how teenagers become hackers and is based on interviews with eight young people cautioned or sentenced for hacking offences.
The average age of cybercrime suspects was 17 years old and that the availability of low-level hacking tools "encourages criminal behaviour", it said.
Mustafa al Bassam was arrested for hacking offences in 2011, when he was 16, and subsequently convicted. He now works as security researcher.
"I started learning how to program from a very early age, when I was about nine or 10", he told Sky News.
"And from there I realised the ways that computer programmers could make mistakes that would introduce computer vulnerabilities into their software, which would allow hackers to gain access to their systems.
"And I realised that this was a really powerful tool."
Mustafa joined the online hacktivist group Anonymous.
"I kind of got involved in serious hacking from a political, activist perspective.
"To me it was a form of civil disobedience and I knew it was illegal. But that didn't stop me. Because I didn't understand the likelihood of being caught."
Jake Davis was also a member of Anonymous and of Lulzsec.
He was also arrested in 2011 and subsequently pleaded guilty to hacking offences. He now runs Spyscape, a publishing company.
He told Sky News: "Within the hacker community itself there's large amounts of one-upmanship and kudos - if hacker A manages to take down a large website then hacker B thinks 'well I can do this'.
"It becomes so gamified that a lot of people, including myself, I think lose focus of what the hacking entails."
The NCA report suggested that targeted interventions towards teenagers at the early stages of hacking can steer them away from criminal hacking.