Course Objective Analyze key psychological and sociological issues related to hackers

  • Course Objective
    Analyze key psychological and sociological issues related to hackers and the potential impact on individual organizations and society as a whole. Answer all 4 topic questions with the minimum to two sources and no more than two paragraphs.
    The class discusses ethical and non ethical hacker personalities and motivations, and profiling tools used by law enforcement in combating cyber threats.
    Topic 1: Hacker Motivation and Threat Mitigation
    Explain what psychological factors can often motivate hackers (eg, addiction, crime, greed, status, etc….), and give examples where these motivations were a factor in a cyberattack.
    What can organizations do to be more proactive in identifying and mitigating hacker threats?
    1. Crime and Punishment: The Psychology of Hacking in the New Millennium [2003 – older but, I believe, still relevant and a solid short introduction]
    2. Understanding a Hacker’s Mind: A Psychological Insight into the Hijacking of Identities [2004 – RSA. Also still useful]
    3. The Risk Propensity and Rationality of Computer Hackers [2010 ]
    Topic 2: Ethical and Nonethical Hackers
    As the cybersecurity field expands, the larger community discourse leads to changes in terminology. While some of our course materials may differentiate between the terms “hackers” and “crackers” as threat actors, we will use the terms “ethical hackers” and “nonethical hackers” to make the same differentiation.
    How do the profiles for ethical and nonethical hackers differ? Should these psychological attributes make a difference as to the amount of, or nature of the punishment meted out to those who are caught? Why or why not?
    Describe how certain factors can also motivate ethical hackers, or those who defend against cyberattacks (sometimes called cyber warriors or cyber patriots)? (eg, revenge, patriotism, fear of government abuse, pride, respect for the law, ownership, anger, retaliation….)
Hacking for the Homeland: Patriotic Hackers vs. Hacktivists [2013 – abstract only.
    Topic 3: Hacking as an “Addiction”
    Some mental health and criminal justice professionals contend that hacking is an “addiction,” and causes obsessive, risk-taking behavior in a manner similar to illegal narcotics—hackers hack to “get high” from the thrill of breaking into a system and getting away with it.
    Should policy makers look toward treatment, rather than incarceration, as to the disposition of hacker cases? Why or why not?
    How do profiles of ethical and non-ethical hackers differ?
    Topic 4 – Profiling of Cybercriminals
    While psychological profiling of criminals is not a new field, should we attempt to profile cybercriminals?
    What sort of things do we already know about the personalities of cybercriminals?
    Do we have enough evidence to indicate there is a distinct psychological pattern that would help in the apprehension of cybercriminals?
    1. Behavioral Risk Indicators of Malicious Insider Theft of Intellectual Property: Misreading the Writing on the Wall [2011 -summary]

2. Traditional and Cyber Aggressors and Victims: A Comparison of Psychosocial Characteristics [2011]

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