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Royal Holloway: The Computer Misuse Act and the characteristics of convicted hackers

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In this Royal Holloway article, the authors go beyond the perpetuated stereotypes often found in media surrounding hackers by analysing the characteristics of real-life convicted hackers in the UK, who were charged under the Computer Misuse Act

Table Of Contents

  • There is a large variation in skill levels among the convicted individuals who fit the loosely defined term of “hacker”, with the majority having little to no skills and are usually ex-IT employees. Only eight of the 132 cases could be defined as highly skilled, having written their own malware, controlled or rented destructive botnets, or were high-performing members of significant hacktivist groups.
  • The main motivation of convicted hackers across all skill levels was money, followed by ego-centric reasons for all except the low-skilled convicts, whose second-highest motivation was revenge.
  • The vast majority of the 132 convicted hackers were male (only 3 of the 132 identified as female), with ages averaging between 23 and 35 years old; around a third of hackers were known in some way to their victims.

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