Ethical and Non-Ethical Hackers
There are significant differences between an ethical hacker and a non-ethical one. Firstly, non-ethical hackers have a malicious intent. They are vigilantes involved in exploiting security vulnerabilities for hacktivists, their own sake, and for people seeking to obtain unauthorized access to systems (Jain, 2008). Ethical hackers, on the other hand,participate in hacking so as to aid in exposing security flaws. These ethical hackers thus attack security systems on behalf of the system’s owner, making sure to prevent the exploitation of the program by unethical hackers. There is thus a difference in morals between the two, with ethical hackers seeking to do well. Another varianceascends in issues of employment. While the owners of the system hire ethical hackers, unethical ones are hired by those seeking to gain unauthorized access to systems (Khan, 2015).
In my opinion, the psychological attributes of hackers should be incorporated in basing the nature and amount of punishment to be meted on offenders. Hacktivists, for instance, should be awardedcompassionatesentences. These individuals are not motivated by profit, do not disrupt critical systems, nor do they sabotage essential infrastructure. These individuals engage in hacking exploits to express their dissent and pose no significant threat to businesses (Paganini, 2013). While they may compromise governments and businesses, criminal punishment should not be met on them.
Ethical hackers are often motivated by the desire to protect the public from attacks, discovering security loopholes, and making the public aware of computer issues. They also endeavor to improve security in structures and networks. They also attempt to make knowledge on various issues regarding public safety and interest public (Levy, 1984).
Hacking as an Addiction
Psychologists have attempted to explain hacking and opine that it is an extension of compulsive computer use over which actors have limited control over. This dependencethat is likened to alcoholism, is repeatedlyinterrelatedwith‘internet addiction disorder.’ There is a direct relationship between computer addiction and cybercrime, and thus the best way of combating the prevalence of hackers is by recognizing theaddictive behavior.
When assessing whether to seek treatment or incarcerate offenders, policy makers ought to consider the various backgrounds of these offenders. Hackers are motivated by numerous factors, one of them being tangible gains (Young, 1999). Political reasons and dissent motivate others. For these individuals, detention may be a beneficial penance. There is, however, another group, that of individuals who break into systems for the thrill of it. This group is the most vulnerable to addiction, and perpetrators are not convicted criminals. These individuals are affected by various psychological issues such as poor upbringing and family relationships. Since they are not prone to crime, policy makers should look towards treatment for this latter group. Treatment will include rehabilitation, institutionof support systems, and restraining computer utilization.
Nykodym, Ariss and Kurtz opine that one of the best ways to eradicate the proneness and addiction to hacking is through instituting treatment programs for computer addicts. Policymakers should track this trend and avail treatment for wrongdoers. The issue is, however, combative since innumerable criminal acts can be deemed as being caused by addiction difficulties (Nykodym, Ariss, & Kurtz, 2008). While there is a need to penalizeoffenders for the crimes they have committed, there is also necessity for exercising reasoned judgment in the handling of individual cases. When weighing the options of incarceration versus treatment, reasoned analysis, and the most effective method to achieve desired outcomes should be utilized.
Profiling of Cybercriminals
For efficient discouragement of hackers from engaging in cybercrime, there is need to comprehend their motivation. This involves the profiling of hackers using various theories such as social learning and socialpsychology. Although only minimal research has been carried outin the area, they have been in-depth, bringing us insight into the personalities of cybercriminals. In his research on teenage hackers, Verton concluded that hackers come from diverse backgrounds and engage in normal activities (Verton, 2002). There is no consistent behavioral trait for hackers, with some seeking anonymity, and some fame. Narcissism, abnormal psychology, addictive behavior, compulsive disorder, and antisocial personalities have all been tied to thevulnerability of individuals to cybercrime.
It is imperative to recognize the stereotypes associated with hackers, labels that should be demystified. The profiling of hackers will also enable organizations recognize the motivations for hacking (Campbell & Kennedy, 2009). The cognizance of these factors will enable legislators, the academic community, and the criminal justice system to model hacker behavior in a predictable manner. This profiling will thus be pivotal in the recognition, extenuation and inhibition of these conducts.
Copious models are employed in profiling cybercriminals. Criminology has attempted to use systematic models of behavioral theory to classify hackers, but none of the models in place is perfect. Social learning theory has been essential to this profiling, but the conceptis also marredby inconsistencies. The inadequacy of a formalized taxonomy has created numerous opportunities for stereotyping. This stereotyping makes it hard to avail a distinct psychological pattern with which to apprehend cybercriminals. There is thus a need for more in-depth analysis of cybercriminals if proper helpful profiles are to be achieved.
Campbell, Q., & Kennedy, D. (2009). Chapter 12: The psychology of computer criminals. In e. a. Bosworth, Computer security handbook. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Jain, R. K. (2008). Hacking–Ethical or Criminal A Legal Quandary. ICFAI Journal of Information Technology, 49–56.
Khan, L. (2015, July 2). Ethical and Unethical Hacking. Retrieved from techmagnifier.com: http://www.techmagnifier.com/opinion/ethical-and-unethical-hacking/
Levy, S. (1984). Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. Garden City: Anchor Press/Doubleday.
Nykodym, N., Ariss, S., & Kurtz, K. (2008). Computer addiction and cyber crime. Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics, 35, 55-59. Retrieved from http://www.na-businesspress.com/jlae/nykodym.pdf
Paganini, P. (2013, October 2). Hacktivism: Means and Motivations … What Else? Retrieved from infosecinstitute.com: http://resources.infosecinstitute.com/hacktivism-means-and-motivations-what-else/
Verton, D. (2002). The Hacker Diaries: Confessions of Teenage Hackers. New York: McGraw-Hill/ Osborne.