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Max Kilger and Tom Holt

The Honeynet Project


Max Kilger

Max Kilger received his doctorate from Stanford University in Social Psychology in 1993. He has written and co-authored research articles and book chapters in the areas of influence in decision-making, the relationship of status and verbal and non-verbal cues in task-oriented groups, mathematical models of influence in task groups, the interaction of people with technology, motivations of malicious online actors and understanding the changing social structure of the computer hacking community.

He was the lead author for the Profiling chapter of the Honeynet Project’s book Know Your Enemy (second edition) which serves as a reference guide for a number of government, military and private sector organizations and has also recently had published a book chapter on social dynamics and the future of technology-driven crime. He is finishing two chapters on profiling and attack attribution for a cyber-counter-intelligence book to be published by McGraw Hill in 2012. His current research examines the effects of homeland affiliation, feelings of nationalism and skill levels on the severity of cyberattacks against foreign and domestic nation states by individuals.

He is a founding and former board member of the Honeynet Project – a ten year old not-for-profit international information security organization dedicated to the public good. He is their behavioral profiler as well as providing additional data and statistical analysis support.

Max was also a member of the National Academy of Engineering’s Combating Terrorism Committee, which was charged with recommending counter-terrorism methodologies to the Congress and relevant federal agencies. He is a frequent national and international speaker to law enforcement, the intelligence community and military commands as well as information security forums on the social dynamics of hackers and hacking groups.

The Emerging Threat from the Civilian Cyber Warrior
Max Kilger and Tom Holt

In the digital world there is a convergence where nation states continue to connect more of their critical national infrastructures to the Internet while the global population of online actors with malicious intent continues to grow at rapidly increasing rate.  But the threat scenario is about to get worse.  The ability for an individual to reach out and effectively attack a nation state through its critical infrastructure is beginning to change the social psychological balance of power between the nation state and the individual.  When you combine this shift in the power balance with more people become technically proficient and the emergence of turnkey sophisticated attack tools, a perfect storm may be brewing that involves more than just the usual assumed threat population.   An ongoing study by Holt and Kilger have developed some preliminary statistical models that examine the effect of independent variables such as gender, age, level of computer expertise, level of emotional attachment to a person’s homeland, outgroup antagonism, country considered one’s homeland (U.S. versus non-U.S.) in a model that predicts the severity of a cyberattack against another foreign country and against one’s own homeland.  We also look at the severity of attack that one would consider in mounting a physical attack against a foreign country or one’s own country.  Preliminary results suggest which of these variables may have a significant effect on the severity of a cyberattack by an individual against a nation state.