Cyber Profiling: Benefits And Pitfalls



Vetting employees by conducting traditional background checks helps minimize insider risks. This practice helps employers to unknowingly hire cybercriminals or convicted persons. However, non-traditional vetting practices have emerged. These practices take advantage of the increase in the number of candidates who build online profiles. These vetting practices are collectively referred to cyber-vetting or cyber profiling.

Organizations using cyber-profiling understand that today’s employees spend much of their time on surfing the web. They visit and contribute to social networking sites including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and others. These sites offer services that allow them to link up and enable them to communicate with others. They also record information that can be used by potential employees to assess the potential candidate’s cultural fit, character, and other characteristics and attributes (Rose, Timm, Pogson, Gonzalez, Appel, & Kolb, 2011). Organizations obtain information from these social media sites to help them understand whether a potential job candidate may be fit for the job or present a risk to their organization once hired. There are many examples that demonstrate this. First, the candidate harbors views about religion, race and other sensitive social domains on his social networking site that are considered to be potentially inflammatory. For example, a man in the UK was not interviewed by an employer because he had indicated in his Facebook personal profile that he did not like and was against people who are religious and anybody who believed in religion. Secondly, the job candidate’s views on a given topic that makes the employee to see him/her as being culturally unfit for the business. Thirdly, the job candidate’s participation or involvement in political or activist action group may pose a threat to the organization because his action would conflict with the business agendas.

Again, the number of firms using social media sites to screen employee varies by country. These examples demonstrate that cyber-profiling enables employees to understand their prospective candidates’ character. It provides a deeper insight in the candidates’ character. For this reasons, many firms are increasingly turning to cyber-profiling. The number of firms using social media sites for cyber-profiling has been growing and varies by country. About 77% of the firms in the U.S use cyber-profiling and 20% in the UK (Kirwan & Power, 2013). Worth noting is that cyber-profiling have potential negative social pitfalls and positive business benefits


Cyber-vetting enables businesses to look for red flags that suggest potential incompatibility with the firm or position. This way, a firm can ostensibly screen candidates more comprehensively before scheduling the interview, thus saving money and time.

Through cyber-vetting, the organization can ensure employees managing critical systems or handling sensitive information present low to the business (Saroha, 2014). Cyber-profiling provides deeper insights into a prospective candidate’s character. In today’s world, conducting internet business assessment enables organizations to ensure the candidates selected reflect the organization’s values, whether acting during personal time or on behalf of the organization. Again, since insiders are responsible for 80% of the security incidents of all organizations, it is important for an organization to employ candidates who are trusted. Background checks into the candidates profile provide employees with vital information about their involvement in civil action, criminal investigations, or financial problems. However, these checks are not enough because they do not report about the candidate’s with clean history, his general behavior and character.

It has also been argued that methods of cyber profiling are useful to some kind of crimes. For examples, the crimes where the offenders shows the essential psychopathology signs, crimes which are related to the pattern, cycle of crimes and sequence, sadistic or brutal, victimization of strangers and assaulting of unfamiliar persons, and the crimes with huge dialogues and exchanges with the victims. In this case, the methods of cyber profiling have the ability of assisting and enriching further the manner and progress of investigation for many violent crimes and other related crimes that need immediate resolution and special attention. Appropriate interrogation requires an appropriate interrogation that requires appropriate emotional approach and passion with good application of principles and methods of psychology together with the suspect psyche so as to generate positive results (Abu Zuhri, 2012).

In this case, four benefits of cyber profiling include, easy of identifying and recognizing physical evidence, existence of the profile on the motivation and source desire of the offender, existence of a profile about the mentality or psyche of the offender and the existence of the profile about behavior functioning patters like the behavioral signature. These four merits provide appropriate direction in performing the traditional methods like work surveillance, appraisal and relentless follow-up, making sure that precise and suitable intelligence network is provided, and implementation and creation of tactics and strategies that are valuable (Abu Zuhri, 2012).

Cyber profiling methods offer huge benefits than the traditional detection methods (Mikkelson, 2010). All the methods of cyber profiling act as tools used in crime control measures designed for unlicking the missing puzzle that may give a lead into arresting the suspected criminal. In addition to physical evidence like DNA, geospatial information happens to hold the merits for a successful process of linking. This is so because the serial offenders offer a reflection of some degree of behavior consistency even though certain behavior appears being less stable and susceptible to influence mostly in sexual offences (Alison, Goodwill, Almond, Heuvel, & Winter, 2010). The other methods of profile do not replace traditional methods but act as a supplement in enriching the traditional methods and are suitable for specific types of crimes. Each method is effective but has its own limitation as per the professional levels of quality and technical competency, commitment, and character of users.

The evidence gathered during profiling is valuable in the sense that it helps in strengthening the aspect of prosecution of the case under a criminal system of justice so as to ensure that the conviction of the suspected offender or avoiding the chance of acquittal as a result of some technicalities and weakened evidences. In addition the result of the applied methods of profiling are as proficient and the hard work and the process involved in traditional investigation (Abu Zuhri, 2012).


Trying to investigate and understand people’s character by looking at their online persona or profiles presents several challenges. First, cyber-profiling is restricted only to the person’s online persona. However, many social networkers tend to create digital identities that completely differ from their actual belief system or personality (Berger, 2015). Many do this to try and fit into certain groups. However, employers do not separate between the digital and the real person. They do not distinguish between the professional comportment and social networking personas. This way, they evaluate candidates using a western perception of a unified and singular identity. In doing this, employers end up using whatever they get from the internet regarding the person irrespective of whether the agenda or intent of the individual posting the information is evaluated or known or whether it is vetted or not. Such oversights may cause the organization to unfairly tag a candidate as unfit during the hiring process. Secondly, using cyber-profiling, employers can see the candidates’ education highlighted on their social media profiles. However, they cannot perform document authentication and verification for education background checks. Also, employers can see the candidates’ dates and past employment but cannot verify the records of the employment they possess. It is not also possible for employers to reference-check the candidate and cannot judge candidates for their criminals’ acts as it is impossible to use cyber vetting to perform a criminal background checks.

It has also been argued that there are some cases where the investigators would fail to provide physical evidence when they fall short of identifying the physical evidence as a result of not being equipped for the process. The possible blinders and weaknesses of criminal investigation is one reason why the experts of crime profiling act as separate auxiliary service and as a section of competent handling team for the investigation. This has helped the team to work as a team in observing and following the protocol and standard of each method of profiling. In this case, the whole process is an evidence-based approach that has no room for shortcut methods. These realities show the reinforcement of the strategic values and the relevance of the methods of offender profiling in offering technical help to the traditional criminal investigation methods (Abu Zuhri, 2012).

The other weakness of cyber profiling is the internal barrier that influences the process of decision and discernments to the possible professional competition and jealousy among the experts having unique personalities (Tompsett, Marshall, & Semmens, 2005). This weakness needs to be reduced to levels considered being manageable. The merit of having the benefits harnessed is the completion and teamwork spirit and rather not competition.


Cyber-profiling has potential negative social pitfalls and positive business. Some of the benefits include (1) enabling businesses to look for red flags that suggest potential incompatibility with the firm or position; (2) enables organization to ensure employees manage critical systems or handling sensitive information present low risk to the business; (3) provides deeper insights into a prospective candidate’s character. Some of the pitfalls include: (1) it is restricted only to the person’s online persona; (2) it does not enable employers perform document authentication and verification for education background checks; and (3) it does possible to reference-check the candidate and it is impossible to use cyber vetting to perform a criminal background checks.


Abu Zuhri, F. (2012). Dynamics of Emotional Quotient (EQ) in IT Auditing Practice: Are the Dynamics Limiting or Empowering? University of Portsmouth.

Alison, L., Goodwill, A., Almond, L., Heuvel, C. v., & Winter, J. (2010). Pragmatic solutions to offender profiling and behavior investigative advice. Legal and criminological psychology , 15, 115-132.

Berger, J. L. (2015). Cyber-vetting: A common Antecedents Model. Doctorate Dissertation, Green State University, Graduate College of Bowling.

Kirwan, G., & Power, A. (2013). Cybercrime: Psychology of cybercrime. Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dublin.

Mikkelson, K. (2010). Cyber-vetting and Monitoring Employees’ Online Activities: Assessing the Legal Risks for Employers. American Bar Association , 18 (2), 124-146.

Rose, A. G., Timm, H., Pogson, C., Gonzalez, J., Appel, E., & Kolb, N. (2011). Developing a cybervetting strategy for law enforcement. International Association of Chiefs of Defense Personnel Security Research Center.

Saroha, R. (2014). Profiling a Cyber Criminal. International Journal of Information and Computation Technology , 4 (3), 253-258.

Tompsett, E. C., Marshall, A. M., & Semmens, C. N. (2005). Cyberprofiling: Offender Profiling and Geographic Profiling of Crime on the Internet. Computer Network Forensics Research Workshop.

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