Hackers, Cyberculture, and Context: Gaining Perspective on an Emerging Criminal Group

Thomas Holt, University of Missouri - St. Louis

ABSTRACT
Criminological interest in computer crimes has expanded greatly over the past ten years, as has the research on these crimes. By comparison, the study of the actors responsible for these crimes, specifically computer hackers, is rather limited and aging. Prior research suggests that hackers and hacker groups may resemble street gangs in patterns of behavior (Mann and Sutton, 1998; Skinner and Fream, 1997; Slatalla and Quittner, 1995). Such a potentially important finding has been given only a cursory examination in the literature. As a result, the understanding of these criminal actors is underdeveloped and potentially incorrect. This research attempts to conceptualize hackers and hacker groups in the current literature on street gangs to examine the accuracy of previous claims and determine new paths for future research. Difficulties in performing this research and the potential policy implications will also be considered.

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Updated 05/20/2006