An Explanatory Model of Motivation for Cyber-Attacks Drawn from Criminological Theories

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A new influence model for Cyber Security is presented that deals with security attacks and implementation of security measures from an attacker's perspective. The underlying hypothesis of this model is that Criminological theories of Rational Choice, Desire for Control, and Low Self-Control are relevant to cybercrime and thereby aid in the understanding its basic Motivation. The model includes the roles of Consequences, Moral Beliefs such as Shame and Embarrassment together with Formal Sanctions in deterring cybercrime, as well as role of Defense Posture to limit the Opportunity to attack and increase the likelihood that an attacker will be detected and exposed. One of the motivations of the study was the observation that few attempts have been made to understand cybercrime, in the context of typical crime because: (a) an attacker may consider his actions as victimless due to remoteness of the victim; (b) ease to commit cybercrimes due to opportunities afforded by the Internet and its accessibility, and readily available tools and knowledge for an attack; and (c) vagueness of cybercrime laws that makes prosecution difficult. In developing the model, information from studies in classical crime was related to Cybercrime allowing for analysis of past cyber-attacks, and subsequently preventing future IS attacks, or mitigating their effects. The influence model's applicability is demonstrated by applying it to case studies of actual information attacks which were prosecuted through the United States Courts, and whose judges' opinions are used for statements of facts. Additional, demonstration of the use and face validity of the model is through the mapping of the model to major annual surveys' and reports' results of computer crime.

The model is useful in qualitatively explaining "best practices" in protecting information assets and in suggesting emphasis on security practices based on similar results in general criminology.