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What makes a Cybercriminal? Understanding the profiling of a Cybercriminal.

What is a psychological profile?

The psychological profile is a tool guide that helps criminal detectives tell them the type of suspect they are looking for. The emergence of psychological profiling started in the Behavioural Research Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the 1960s to explain the aggressive criminal activity. 

What are Cybercrimes?

Cybercrime, also known as cybercrime, the use of a computer as an instrument for more criminal purposes, such as fraud, trading in child pornography and intellectual property, misuse of identity, or breach of privacy. Cybercrime, specifically across the Internet, has increased in importance as computers have become integral to business, culture, and government.

History of cyber-crime

Throughout the evolution of cybercrime, the sophistication of offences and motivations has also grown. In the early days of cybercrime, most of the offences were perpetrated by angry workers who inflicted physical damage to computer systems. 

Unhappy workers will express their feelings by vandalizing the machines while costing thousands of dollars to the businesses. These incidents are known to be the early stages of insider attacks. The tradition of malicious destruction of the inner workings of computing networks started in the 1960s at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). MIT students interacted with and studied trains from their Tech Model Railroad Club and were interested to learn how to manipulate train anatomy.

This interest has moved to the need to dissect computers in the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab. These students have successfully discovered ways to customize and adjust basic computer functions without the need to re-engineer them. This was perceived to be the first move of hacking. However, the term “hacking” was perceived to be a constructive process by the public since it was simply a means of solving or changing a computer problem. As the hardware used by telecommunications started to expand in popularity, computer users, in particular users who considered themselves programmers, began to use malicious computers. 

What Psychological Profile can a Cybercriminal have?

There is increasing insecurity of individuals and vulnerabilities in the cyber world, and the public is concerned about Internet security.

Cybercrime is an especially dangerous offense that happens in different parts of society and has a significant effect on it in a variety of ways – societal disorganization, economic damage, and psychological illness.

The profile of a suspect is a result of a study and examination focused on the characteristics of a criminal offense, the recognition of the personality attributes, behavioral patterns, and demographic statistics of an accused criminal. In this scenario, the felony act will take priority over cybercrime. 

Personality traits play a crucial role in the behavior of the personality. A man’s features are both innate and typical. The identity of the perpetrator is a collection of undesirable personal traits that are unique to the category of crime and individual offender.

Cybercrime is not only a person with a certain status who has rights, obligations, liabilities but an entity as a dynamic system with a variety of structures:
1) needs – interests.
2) emotions – thought – will.
3) temperament – behavior – value orientation.

Major Cybercrime trends victims fall prey to. 

It is easy to get confused if one is/was a victim of cybercrime, so the first move is to realize what nature of cybercrime one has been targeting and what kind of details one has been subjected to. Understanding the categories will provide insight into the types of victims and, thus, direct us to the types of offenders and eventually to understanding the offender’s personality. 

Breaking down the different forms of Cybercrime.

  • Phishing Attack-

    In a phishing attack, cyber attackers use email or malicious websites to request sensitive information from a person or corporation while acting as a trustworthy agency.
    Phishing attempts mostly come in the form of an email but can also come in the form of a text message (called SMiShing) or a voicemail (Vishing). Phishing attacks normally tend to come from a source whom you trust, like individuals or organizations that you partake with daily.
    Recognition and mitigation are the strongest protections against phishing attacks. One of the safest ways to secure oneself is never to click connections or attachments in emails before the author is checked. 

  • Malware-

    This is one of the most common forms of cybercrime because it can be manifested in a wide variety of formats.
    Malware could include anything from Trojan viruses to worms to spyware and is also a core component of most cyber-crime activities, including phishing attacks, password abuses, and more.
    Fortunately, most malware attacks can be avoided with a successful offense. Being vigilant on what email attachments one opens, avoiding questionable websites, and downloading and maintaining antivirus programming for all the computers and smart phones as well will keep one protected from such crimes. 

  • Online Credential Violation (username and password)

    Becoming a victim of an online credential violation could appear in several ways – ransomware, phishing attacks, credential stuffing, etc. – but the result is still the same: cyber attackers have access to the personal online credentials of employees or consumers (username and password).
    Helping to avoid a breach of credential continues with the use of solid, personalized passwords for the different accounts. By not posting or copying these passwords on a public computer.
    Never use the same password for banking as for other non-financial sites, such as social media or email.
    Trying to have a separate banking device versus other day-to-day operations to minimize the risk of a computer hack, which otherwise could lead to misuse of your online banking credentials. 

How Psychological Profiles are usually done.

Unlike the rest in society, offenders are not in a capacity to follow norms correctly due to diversions during their socialization or to embrace “specific terms” of the criminal climate.

It is influenced by numerous factors: heritage/genes, education, society, lifestyle, and socio-economic factors. According to the criminal investigation opinion, it may be claimed that criminal profiling depends strongly on a combination of implicit and evidence-based professional insight. This will make the guidance of the profiler more vulnerable to cognitive bias and defective decision-making. 

Criminal profiling is reactive by the analysis of the patterns seen at crime scenes. The offender profiles the characteristics of the offender in the internment of his or her crime scene practices. For example, a profiler might try to infer the age, gender, or employment history of a criminal from the way he or she behaved during a crime. Clinical profilers draw their findings on the characteristics of the offender from their clinical experience of working with offenders.

The aim of the statistical approach, working with statistical data, databases, is to establish the relationship between the information recorded in the statistical reports and the characteristics of the offender, using data on similar crimes, and detected criminal offenses.

How the Psychological Profile of a Cybercriminal is similar and different than other types of Criminal Profiles.

One must accept that profiling is more effective in serial cases than single criminal cases. Cybercriminals are not a monocultural group of criminals. Cybercrime can be committed by a woman, a man of any age, economic class, color, religion, or nationality. 

Nowadays, in the case of cybercrime, the detective must consider an immense volume of information in electronic or digital form. The crime scene, in relation to the physical scene, involves information devices or computer networks. A collection of scene factors and other investigative details may include information on the offender’s personality, motivation, and characteristics. Considering the diversity of cybercrime and profiling approaches-forensic aspects, psychological aspects, the technological aspects-the collaborative collaboration of multidisciplinary experts is important. It is fair to point out that the criminal profiling of cybercriminals is multidisciplinary in nature. 

Cybercrime has many advantages compared to most criminals:
1) Worldwide accessibility
2) Anonymity
3) Disproportion between the offender’s acts and the victim’s security – the offender chooses the moment, location, style, and approach to annoy the victim. There is no overt interaction between the perpetrators and the victims, no physical use of the weapons;
4) Distance and versatility – there is no reason to leave the crime scene, low risk, but potentially significant material benefits or income. Many cybercriminals are of a serial type in that the offender is used to their actions and commits multiple offenses. For example, an overview of the “digital crime scene” markers will define and provide insight into the intrusion behavior of computer hackers. As such, this is an important method for classifying police investigations. 

Psychological Profile of Cyber Criminals.

The cybercrime profile can be described by including key elements such as:

Characteristics/Traits of personality-

Characteristics of personality are defined as a broad individual psychological dimension that describes the interpersonal, stable, and common individual differences in behavior, thoughts and feelings of the individual. The personality of a cybercriminal is closely linked to the enhanced internal need to risk in violation of the law, and to such behaviour to achieve some personal benefit or gain material benefit, profit. The impact of the micro-environment is important.

For example, family influences that adversely impact the development of personality and thereby increase cybercrimes include failures in the process of raising children (lack of guardians, lack of support and understanding), family deformity (neglecting children, etc.), adverse families (addiction issues, financial problems) and/or social problems.

Criminal professionalism-

That is, personality characteristics that lead to a stable and successful approach to cybercrime. It requires four mandatory features: specific personality qualities; expertise and skills; fearlessness, bravery, and self-confidence; efficacy and feasibility of action; the commission of a criminal offense, and the accomplishment of a specific goal. Any financially driven cybercriminals, for example, usually have two key goals – input data and user identities in order to obtain access to finance from the identification they have gained.

Technical knowledge-

This is related to technical knowledge and technical abilities in the control of advanced cybercrime-enabled systems and computers.

The most famous cyber offenders are often found to be university students or students from other educational institutions. It is widely agreed that the level of education among cybercriminals could be higher than among other groups of criminals.

When cyber offenders have the highest qualifications, expertise, and skills that can be used to commit cybercrime, the social risk of the crime will not only rise but increase gradually. In this case, intelligence is a central aspect of cybercrime.

It must be accepted that a person with criminal experience, based on the experience, talents, and abilities gained, who engages in criminal activity, causes more harm both in daily circumstances and in evolving environments.

Social Characteristics-

Ethnic characteristics, socio-economic status, socio-psychological and moral characteristics exist.
The basic elements are gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic class, for example, the characteristics of a traditional fraudster are a middle-aged man with a higher education history and a significant job experience in his business (Almost half had six or more years of experience, about a third – three to five years of experience).

Characteristic of motivation-

In criminology, motivation is understood as a collection of motives of behavior in which each of the motives defines the aspect of motivation and resides in both consciousness and subconsciousness. Motives are developed and created under the control of individual thoughts and emotions.

The motivations are internal-chosen by the individual and external-driven by others. Research has demonstrated that human action is motivated by a variety of reasons – different internal and external influences. The motive is the directing and encouraging role of the action (internal encouragement) which, while creating the subject of the activity, guides human activity. Hackers often can hack for the benefit of their pride, to assert a self that is unique from the self of others. Offenders in this group are typically irritated by social rivalry here and then pursue an excuse to compensate by using their computer techniques. 

Gaps in literature

Cybercrime profiling has been described as “promising but immature science.” This term can be taken as an inspiration to advance the topic and fill the holes in current studies. Present literature focuses on criminal profiling in criminal cases, and few scholars dedicate time to cybercrime.

Multiple forms of cybercrime are closely connected to multiple types of cybercrime. These cybercriminals will vary from “rookies” to experts with differentiating agendas. Analysis has shown an effort to profile cyber-criminals but has struggled to attempt to integrate the features of each form of criminality into a single outline. However, this would not rule out the effectiveness of cyber-criminal profiling. Minimal analysis has been seen on the implementation of a different methodology and the presentation of different suspect profiles for several cybercrime types in one paper.

Present literature focuses on criminal profiling in criminal cases, and few scholars dedicate time to cybercrime. It is important to remember that criminal profiling in cybercrime cases is never going to be an exact science.

This argument also extends to profiling in every investigation. With strategies and methods focused on modes of inference and hypothesis, an error is difficult to avoid where the error appears to be predicted. Often with a high estimated error figure, prosecutors avoid forming a relationship with digital forensics and criminal profiling while forensics appears to have a lower error number.

Owing to the general lack of studies into cyber-crime criminal profiling, trends of cyber-crime activity have not been established. In fact, this may have a role to play in why cybercrime is on the rise and catching a suspect is on the decline.


Limitations have arisen because of the studies undertaken for this study. The problem of criminal profiling continues to evolve in cybercrime investigations.

A few sources have found that access to local law enforcement cases has been granted in their revered nations. This helped them to perform their study and exchange patterns of behavioral traits. There was a lack of analysis using case files to back up their suggested motivations and personality traits for the cyber-crime types presented.

Early studies have based their attention and energy on hackers and how they work. It was not before other offenses, such as cyber data fraud, were committed. The public interest that analysts have looked at the study of other possible cyber-crime profiles. The bulk of academic papers focused on one big cybercrime.

When investigating, there was a limited number of publications that addressed numerous cybercrimes and related criminal profiles. 


Cybercrime activity is affected by the presence of a variety of variables. Such activity is the product of reciprocal contact, which includes human, social, environmental influences and disputes between individuals and communities. It is affected by a variety of different factors: Genes/heredity, education, society, lifestyle, and socio-economic factors. Consequently, cybercrime is often triggered by an individual’s display of anger and bitterness at the social system and status of the person in it.

While the field of cyber-crime profiling is still in its incipient stages, it still looks and expands with leaps and bounds. The present thesis is a small step in the direction of its full growth. As this study has been included it is the view of only students and not experts that its application is limited to academic purposes. It is an attempt to establish a framework for further studies. Profiling a cybercriminal is just the first step in the even slower and tougher process of apprehending the wrongdoers.

It is an important move, no matter what. It is going to help the authorities in restricting their search, which helps them to concentrate the other tools used in intense search operations.

Although technology remains the key shield against cyber threats, a deeper understanding of the psychological, criminological, and sociological dimensions of the broader picture will complement security efforts and capture a criminal before he travels a distance. 

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