Thursday, November 29, 2012

Preventing Damage by Preventing Grade System Intrusions: Attacker Motivation

the Hack

Intruders that are operating under just pure hacker motivations are the bored, the curious, and those searching for a challenge. Education institutes are uniquely qualified for defusing these intruders, as intellectual challenge and stimulation is the purpose of such bodies. This point is captured explicitly in the mission statement of Harvard University: education “...should liberate students to explore, to create, to challenge...” (Lewis, 1997). Boredom, curiosity, and lack of challenge can all be directly addressed through adjustments to curriculum and individualized development plans.

the Grades

Cheater intruders can be defused by recognizing that the core of what they are doing is not actually changing their grades, they are instead taking control of their grades and future. These intruders can probably be successfully profiled under the hacker motivation of desiring power (Campbell & Kennedy, 2010). For whatever reason, they find themselves without the power to shape their situation through the legitimate channels. Ways to place students in control of their situation and convince them to downplay the grade portion of the grade include engaging them and their interests, challenging them appropriately, empowering them with a voice in directing what they learn, and recognizing their effort and competence (Stephens & Wangaard, nd).

the Money

There is no magic bullet to help reduce this motivation. These attackers are driven by straight criminal mindsets and desires. The solution here is to just address the technical issues to close the attack vectors. They will be back, the defenders just have to be persistent. If a psychological profile was to be considered covering these attackers, it would fall in line with the abnormal psychology of offline criminals (Campbell & Kennedy, 2010). Money as a motivator drives the attacker to get more money.

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.

Lewis, H. R. (February 23, 1997). What is Harvard’s mission statement? Harvard University. Retrieved from:

Stephens, J. M., & Wangaard, D. B., (nd). Teaching for integrity: Steps to prevent cheating in your classroom. The School for Ethical Education. Retrieved from:

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