Cyber Crime Offender Profiling: The Human Factor



The process of offender profiling draws on the human factor of the cyber Crime Offender profiling both the nonphysical and physical information. This includes evidence on what the offender did to the victim, the offender’s behavior before and after the offence, the sequence of events, and the layout of the crime and crime scene in relation to the absence or presence of significant items or the disposition of the victim. From these data, one can draw inferences about the possible motivation and meaning of the particular action (Kirwan, & Power, 2013). For instance, tying up the victim may suggest the necessity for control. Location of crime, characteristics of the victim, and use of vehicles may suggest demographic and social feature of the criminal offender, such as age, occupation, or race. The goal of criminal profiling is to try and narrow the area of investigation with the basic assumptions being that the behavior of the offender at the crime scene reflects the method of committing crime and consistencies in personality of the offender.

In majority of criminal cases, criminal profiling is useful in sexual assaults and serial crimes and in crime scenes that reflect psychopathology including rapes, cut and satanic killings and sadistic assaults (Kirwan & Power, 2013). Worth noting is that the human factor of cyber crime offender profiling draws on the offender’s characteristics. Human factor means the impact of background and personal characteristics of the offender/perpetrator in commissioning crimes and the internal and environmental factors that shape the criminal careers of the perpetrators (Aebi, et al., 2016).

In a nutshell the human factor addresses the human or social aspect of cybercrime. It focuses on exploring the perpetrators of cybercrimes, their criminal careers, their modus operandi, how criminal hackers pick or select their vulnerable targets, and how they can effectively be deterred. This paper explores these features.

In the era where computer criminals are becoming increasing difficult to combat, law enforcement specialists are increasingly becoming interested in the offenders themselves, their personalities, as well as traits existing in their actions in the broadest sense. The special role of identifying the human factor of cyber crime offender profiling is often played by a psychological profiler professional. Psychological profiling involves utilizing a method to map the psychological description of the unknown offender (Kirwan, & Power, 2013). The result of the process is the creation of the offender’s short, concise and dynamic profile describing the most important manifestations of behavior and characteristics of the unknown perpetrator. As observed by Tompsett, Marshall, & Semmens (2005) psychological experience and knowledge allows the security specialists to interpret the pieces of information and evidence found at the scene of the crime and enables them to further determine the personality type of the perpetrator.

The basic rules of offender profiling state that there is a correlation between the act committed by the offender and his or her personality (Tompsett, Marshall, & Semmens, 2005). As a result, one may infer about the offender’s psychophysical characteristics including his or her behavior and motivation based on the traces left by the offender and the modus operandi (the method of operating). Identical relations concerns hacks or network attacks. As suggested by Lickiewicz (2011), computer crime perpetrators count on internet anonymity. However, the anonymity of the internet does concern their signatures they leave, their motivation, and modus operandi.

According to Lickiewicz (2011) each cyber criminal is his unique way of doing thing with own software and techniques which he/she utilizes for break-ins. Generally, compute crimes are of the serial nature. As such, it is possible for the security specialists to determine the profile of the offender. Lickiewicz (2011) holds that it is important to prepare the profiles of the internet criminals since they are considered a threat to the network security. Of great importance when creating the perpetrator’s profile is the database. If properly prepared, database on offender profiling can enable the security specialists to accumulate information on perpetrators of crimes of similar nature. It also enables investigators and scientists to search for information and analogies in other future cases.

There are two types of investigations in computer crime related cases. First, a situation involving the occurrence of the network incidences in which the identity of the offender is unknown such as the network break-in cases. The second computer crime case involves a situation in which both the offender and crime are known. Sahito, and Slany (2013) emphasizes that in these types of investigations, deductive profiling is useful. However, it is somewhat difficult talking about offender profiling in the second case of computer crime. In investigative psychology, profiling is understood as involving the creation of the psychological profile of the unknown offender but not the individual who has been already arrested by security agencies. Sahito, and Slany (2012) suggest that when creating the offender profile, data should be analyzed in such as way that the analysts can narrow down the search process to a certain group. This way, one may define the offender’s motivation and his or her skills. The offender profile also includes information the area of the internet that should be searched for a given criminal.

Again, one should thoroughly analyze actions of the victim on the internet to establish the reason that may have compelled the offender to attack the victim. From this, one can draw up a detailed offender’s profile and set up a honeypot (future trap) for the offender. When creating the profile of the offender, assumptions should be made regarding the offender’s maturity and age. This allows the security agency to gain information on the offender’s aims, culture she/he grew up and the offender’s motivation. The culture in which the perpetrator grew up may condition his or her behavior. This will allow the use of psycholinguistic methods, which enables identification of offenders in future cases.

Profiling helps explain the behavior of the offender and the need for it to be fulfilled. Profiling also enable an investigator to determine the place where the offender committed the operation. A whole team consisting of internet technology specialists, lawyers, and security specialists are required to conduct offender profiling.

A cyber criminal possesses the following characteristics: at least certain minimal technical skills; a feeling that they are outside the reach of legal norms, and disrespect for legal norms; rich fantasy; a strong motivation of various types including the need for entertainment, motives of a political character, and the need to gain material goods (Lickiewicz, 2011). Computer criminals are also reported to have high technical abilities and skills to solve problems and higher than average IQ (intelligence quotient); are brilliant adolescents bore by poorly prepared teachers and an appropriate school system; they rebel against all authorities and symbols.

Technical skills are general knowledge regarding computer systems, programming languages, network security and functioning and have knowledge about applications used for data base development. Hackers also know the operating system and principles of sensing data (Kirwan, & Power, 2013). Having knowledge in these areas enables hackers to make use of the system weaknesses of the system when breaking in. hackers are identified with certain personality traits. They have crucial characteristics that are effective for attacks. They use social influence or technical methods to obtain information directly from the user. They also demonstrate a high degree of openness to new experiences and neuroticism. These features strongly motivate them to aspire and act to break in the system. A high degree of neuroticism conditions them to abuse the communication using the network. It also makes them to have strong want to maintain anonymity. Also, openness to new experiences determines the offenders’ desire to learn need systems; and the unconventionality and creativity to break the security measures (Kirwan, & Power, 2013). They are known to have the high tendency to violate rules being enforced at the workplace, coming into conflict with superiors and ignoring them.

The offender’s social skills constitute a dimension that determine their functioning in a group and how the internalize social norms and use them in professional and private life. Social skills of the offender remain in relation to technical and intelligence skills. It is emphasized in the literature that hackers often demonstrate low social skills. These skills consist of difficulties in relating with colleagues ad family, the inability to establish strong and close interpersonal relations, and a sense of alienation. Computer criminals are also associated with internet addiction. This element makes them to be effective in their attacks on the system. The time they devote to computers translate into knowledge and skills to use them (Lickiewicz, 2011). These characteristics form the human aspect of computer crime and form the basis for creating the hacker’s psychological profile.

It is also worth noting that there is relationship between these human factor elements. For example, the cyber criminals’ method of attack is influence by their personality, and intelligence, technical and social skills. Social skills influence the decision they make with regard to the social techniques used during the attack. Technical skills possessed by offenders help them to master the system and influence the method used.

The success or effectiveness of an attack is determined by the criminal’s level of intelligence. The offender’s indigence and his or her ability to successful conceal traces at the crime scene condition his or her way of behavior while at the scene of the attack. Social skills are useful when utilizing other hackers’ help (Lickiewicz, 2011). Technical skills is related to the understanding the weak side of the system. They also determine the how the offender deals with the data obtained and determine the effectiveness of tasks executed. Methods used by hackers are largely conditioned by technical skills, personality and intelligence. The offender’s personality influences the break-in failure, and determines method used to deal with the broken system.


When profiling a person’s characteristics, the profiler of the offender assumes that the behavior of the offender is directed by his or her characteristics and the way he or she thinks. It is the work of the offender profiler to infiltrate the behavior of the person that is indicating of his characteristics rather the prevailing situation.


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Lickiewicz, J. (2011). Cyber Crime psychology-proposal of an offender psychological profile. Problems of forensic sciences , 2 (3), 239-252.

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