Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cyber crime profiling

Topic – While psychological profiling of criminals is not a new field, should we attempt to profile cyber criminals? What sort of things do we already know about the personalities of cyber criminals? Do we have enough evidence to indicate there is a distinct psychological pattern that would help in the apprehension of cyber criminals?

Psychological profiling is a lot like static malware detection. Researchers correlate observable behaviors of known criminals to the underlying motivations and other observable traits. The signatures and heuristics derived from that research is then applied to unknown persons to determine the likelihood of being a future criminal of the same pattern which was researched. If both the false positive and false negative rates can be kept low, application of the profile keeps society safer, just as successful anti-malware scanning keeps a computer safer. Attempts should definitely be made to incorporate profiling into the handling of cyber criminals.

When studying the personalities of cyber criminals, we should avoid using the definition that Campbell and Kennedy attribute to National Institute of Justice of anyone that utilizes any cyber technology when planning or executing their crime. (Campbell & Kennedy, 2009) A criminal that merely utilizes a computer to commit their crime will have the same motivations as someone committing the same crime decades ago. The profile of a cyber criminal needs to be limited to those “individuals for whom the computer represents an alternative way of life apart from social norms.” (Campbell & Kennedy, 2009, pp. 12-2)

Those computer-dedicated criminals are known, through various types of after the crime self reporting, to share a set of six motivators: addiction, boredom, curiosity, politics, power, and recognition. Through psychological behavioral research applied to cyber criminals, we also can attribute enabling factors which the criminals themselves may not be consciously aware of: aggression, anonymity, and social distance. (Campbell & Kennedy, 2009)

The writings of Campbell and Kennedy suggest that there is currently a great deal of evidence to support cyber criminal profiling to be used in the reduction of criminal acts. By recognizing the conscious motivations and the unconscious enablers, they can be addressed such that the computer obsession is not turned to crime. The reform of significant historical cyber criminals supports this fact. Identifying persons matching the patterns without having addressed the concerns will assist in the selection of suspects, so yes the pattern should assist in the apprehension of cyber criminals.

Campbell, Q., & Kennedy, D.M. (2009). The psychology of computer criminals. In Bosworth, et al (Eds.), Computer security handbook. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

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