Psychological profiling will go a long way in assisting criminal justice systems around the world to understand and apprehend cybercriminals, which is integral in curbing cybercrime. Though there are always exceptions, most cybercriminals will exhibit some similar characteristics. Despite the fact that the computer forensic process is unique in certain aspects, the basic investigative methods and goals are similar with other traditional investigations (Casey, 2002). Criminal profiling can be used in the two cases of cybercrimes, where the identity of the offender in a certain incident is unknown; and when the incident and the offender are known.
Developing a profile of the offender will go a long way in helping the investigator to focus the search. The offender’s signature behaviors, modus operandi and motivation become evident. Cybercriminals mostly rely on the pseudo-anonymous nature of technology and the internet in order to obfuscate their identity. However, this does not extend to MO, motivations and signature behaviors. Research indicates that like traditional criminals, cybercriminal are motivated to commit their offences for similar reasons. These include money, politics or religion, sexual impulses, desire for power and emotions such as anger and revenge (Rogers, 2001).
Research has developed general motivating typologies for cybercrimes, based on a similar typology for serial rape or murder investigations. The five general typologies were: opportunistic, power assurance, sadistic, anger retaliation and profit. A better understanding of the offender’s possible MO, motivation and signatures, enables the investigator to derive specific search criterion for the media analysis (Casey, 2002). An offender profile also allows the investigator to narrow down the space for potential suspect and focus their attention to a certain subset of suspects. Therefore, the investigator gets an opportunity to analyze the victim’s characteristics, such as victimology among others. As indicated by Rogers (2001), cyber-victimology is an effective tool in determining the people, personality types and systems that are likely to become victims, for developing a more complete offender profile and for creating baits for offenders. However, with continued technology innovations, what challenges do we expect in achieving this?
Should Cybercriminals Receive Medical Treatment And Rehabilitation Just Like Other Addicts?
Evidence in medical settings, legal proceedings and scholarly journals reveal the existence of computer addiction. Computer hackers and programmers have been labeled addicts by psychologists and computer addiction has been found to be a motivation for cybercrime. Since most cyber attacks are perpetrated either by an insider or with their assistance, it is important that managers identify addiction behaviors of their employees and know how to deal with them. According to Reed (2002), the continued use of computers can lead to computer dependency, which can develop addiction. This can lead to more serious problems in one’s profession and academics as well as decreased social interactions. Results from various studies have also indicated that computer dependency is also a plausible syndrome and can nurture computer hacking.
Computer hacking has become widespread and hackers can be referred as “computer addicts”, since they demonstrate addiction characteristics. According to psychologists, hacking is computer obsession gone wrong. Therefore, establishing addiction rehabilitation programs will assist policy makers in dealing with the prevalence of cybercrimes. However, this may not provide a solution in dealing with those apprehended unless proper profiling is done and their condition established as an addiction. Though they have not been listed as truly mental diseases, experts treating patients for these afflictions argue that these syndromes are real diseases (Kershaw, 2005).
Experts have also said that they see similar withdrawal signs as in drug or alcohol addicts, such as severe anxiety, profuse sweating and paranoia (Kershaw, 2005). Computer addicts get hooked to their behaviors and the feelings they get from what they do. Their activities become a means of compensating for such problems as strong and fulfilling careers, relationships, solid marriages or financial security. Furthermore, computer related issues have been found to be characterized by cyber sexual addiction, net compulsions, cyber relationship addiction, information overload and addiction to interactive computer games. All these indicate a need for interacting, which may compel someone to engage in cybercrime. Treating these socially related issues will assist in reducing cybercrimes.
However, one question needs to be answered. Are all cybercriminals computer addicts?