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Max Kilger



Max Kilger received his doctorate in Social Psychology from Stanford University and is a founding as well as past board of directors member of the Honeynet Project – an international not-for-profit research organization focusing on conducting research and developing tools within the information security field.  As the profiler for the organization his work has concentrated on researching the social psychological motivations for malicious online behavior as well as examining the social dynamics at work in the hacking community.  His work has extended into applying this knowledge set to the emergence of threat vectors and their potential national security consequences.  He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering’s Counterterrorism committee charged with recommending counterterrorism strategies to the federal government.  He has co-authored articles and book chapters on the social structure of the hacking community, assessing the probability of cyber attack on critical infrastructure and profiling motivations of malicious online actors.  His most recent book chapter “Social Dynamics and the Future of Technology-Driven Crime” is forthcoming.  Max is a frequent national and international speaker to the intelligence community, military commands, federal law enforcement as well as information security forums.



 Motivations for Malicious Online Behavior and Consequent Emerging Cross-National Cyber Threats


Developments in information security technologies provide governments, corporations and citizens with sophisticated tools to armor themselves against the ever increasing onslaught of attacks and attempted compromises from malicious sole actors, cybercrime crews and even other nation states.  In addition, negotiations among a number of governments including the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and entities such as the European Union has lead to incremental progress in establishing policies and agreements in the areas of international information security policy, law enforcement and information sharing.  One key component in resolving the information security dilemma that has received less attention is the development of a body of knowledge that works to better understand the geo-political forces and social psychological motivations that shape the behaviors and objectives of malicious actors online.


This paper will guide the reader through the six basic motivations for malicious online behavior, noting how the distribution of these motivations has been changing over time.  Next we will explore how differences in cultural, political and economic forces theoretically may affect the distribution of these motivations among populations that differ among these lines.  The paper will then shift its focus to concentrate on one specific motivational instance in the form of the “civilian cyber warrior”.  An examination of the emergence of this archetype and the consequences of the shift in the nature of the power relationship between citizen and nation state will give the reader a better understanding of the serious nature of this threat vector.  Finally, this paper will outline a series of potential emerging near-term and mid-term threats and consequences in the information security arena.