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Knowledge is power: An analysis of discussions on hacking forums.

McAlaney, J., Hambidge, S., Kimpton, E. and Thackray, H, 2020. Knowledge is power: An analysis of discussions on hacking forums. In: 5th IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy Workshops (EuroS&P): WACCO 2020 Workshop on Attackers and Cyber-Crime Operations, 7-11 September 2020, Online.

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Official URL: https://www.ieee-security.org/TC/EuroSP2020/

Abstract

There remains a lack of understanding on the social factors that influence the behaviours and beliefs of people who have an interest in hacking. This research sought to address that gap by exploring the conversations that take place on hacking forums and subreddits. Text in hacking related threads was collected from these sites over a period of several months. Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software was used to determine the linguistic characteristics of each forum/ subreddit. Thematic analysis was then conducted on a sub-set of text from each source. The results of the LIWC analysis indicated that there are variations in several psychologically relevant factors between these forums and subreddits, including the degree to which users used language that indicated they were being honest, confident, analytical and emotional. There were several results that were inconsistent with stereotypes of hackers, such as a relative absence of language indicating anger. The thematic analysis identified several themes relating to knowledge, skills acquisition, honesty legality and risk. Overall, this research demonstrates that there exists an established online community of hackers, which are likely to be encountered by any young person who becomes interested in cybersecurity and hacking. These communities may potentially act as an important source of social support and social identity for their members. Understanding the dynamics of these communities may better help us steer people towards legitimate cybersecurity careers, where their passion and skills can be used for societal good.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords:hacking; hackers; social learning; pathways; forums
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:34807
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:12 Nov 2020 16:05
Last Modified:12 Nov 2020 16:05

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