A Global Information Age Forensic Construct
As a forensic psychologist with expertise in theoretical criminology and abnormal psychology, this writer has formulated a psychological, sociological & criminological construct for the growing dimension known as cyberspace. In the manuscript that follows, this writer introduces his theoretical paradigm and profile, iPredator, who he believes to be the modern-day criminal and psychological reprobate. This new breed of human predator uses Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to profile, locate, track and attack their prey.
The typologies & behavioral patterns of iPredator include: Cyber Bullying, Cyber Harassment, Cyber Stalking, Cyber Crime, Online Sexual Predation, Internet Defamation, Cyber Deviance, Cyber Deception and Cyber Terrorism. Within this construct, Cyber Harassment is the adult form of Cyber Bullying and used when the perpetrator is an adult.
Vital to understanding the theoretical core of iPredator is this writer’s staunch belief that iPredators are variants of classical criminals, deviants and nefarious entities. ICT and the Information Age has created a new dimension leading to an entirely new population of humanity engaged in malevolent, harmful and deceptive practices. ICT and cyberspace are not tools used by the sociopath, deviant, narcissist or classic criminal, but part of a new generation that will be permanent fixtures to humanity for centuries to follow.
The term, iPredator, is a global construct designed to include any child, adult, business entity or organized group who uses ICT to harm, abuse, steal from, assault or defame other ICT users. Also included in this construct are people who use ICT to benefit from the victimization and harm of others, but are not the principal perpetrators. Prime examples of this iPredator subset are criminals who engage in the sale and profit of child pornography using ICT. As ICT advances and humanity becomes more dependent upon information technology, it is inevitable the typologies of iPredator will expand as well. The 2013 formal definition of iPredator is as follows:
iPredator: A child, adult, group or nation who, directly or indirectly, engages in exploitation, victimization, stalking, theft or disparagement of others using Information and Communications Technology. iPredators are driven by deviant fantasies, desires for power and control, retribution, religious fanaticism, political reprisal, psychiatric illness, perceptual distortions, peer acceptance or personal and financial gain. iPredators can be any age, either gender and not bound by economic status, race or national heritage.
On April 6, 2012, the owner of a small Internet service provider in Indiana was charged with blackmailing children into performing sexually explicit acts over a webcam. Richard Leon Finkbiner, age 39, of Brazil, Indiana was charged with sexual exploitation of children. The allegations involved two 14-year-old boys, but the FBI found thousands of sexually explicit images and videos on Finkbiner’s computer suggesting hundreds of other victims were involved in his extortion scheme.
Using a fake identity, Finkbiner frequented anonymous video chat websites to locate children online. He used “fake webcam” software to display pornographic videos claiming to be live feeds of himself from his webcam. While showing these videos, Finkbiner encouraged them to engage in sexually explicit or suggestive activity themselves, which he secretly recorded. Finkbiner then threatened to make these videos available to their parents, friends and coaches. He also threatened to post their images on gay pornographic websites. Finkbiner was quoted as telling one victim that he was a “hacker” who knew how to remain anonymous.
“Only I have this link,” Finkbiner wrote to one victim, asking, “You want to play this game or you want to be a gay porn star?” To another, Finkbiner acknowledged, “Yes it is illegal and I’m ok with that,” warning: “If you don’t play I promise I’ll fuck your life over… I won’t get caught I’m a hacker I covered my tracks.” The level of terror his threats caused his victims were chillingly revealed in the transcript of an email message one of the boys sent to Finkbiner pleading, “All I ask from you is to delete it please I’m only 14, please just do this to somebody else, not me please.”
Prosecutors said the case was an example of Sextortion. Crime authorities define sextortion as iPredators catching victims in embarrassing situations online and threatening to expose them unless they create sexually explicit photos or videos for the iPredator. As of October 2012, the presence of hundreds of victims alleged to have been perpetrated by Richard Leon Finkbiner puts their investigation and prosecution among the larger, if not largest, sextortion case prosecutors have ever undertaken in the United States.
On May 4, 2011, William Francis Melchert-Dinkel was convicted on two counts of aiding suicide in the death of 32-year-old Mark Drybrough, of Coventry, England, who hanged himself in 2005 and 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji of Brampton, Ontario, who jumped into a frozen river in 2008. State prosecutors presented evidence he posed online as a 28-year-old, depressed female nurse engaged in encouraging, advising and assisting young adults to commit Internet suicide. Melchert-Dinkel frequented suicide chat rooms under the names “Li Dao,” “Cami D,” and “Falcongirl.” He is the first person charged and convicted of assisted suicide using the Internet.
Melchert-Dinkel was obsessed with hanging, suicide and searching out potential suicide victims online. Court documents said Melchert-Dinkel told police he did it for the “thrill of the chase.” He acknowledged participating in online chats about suicide with an estimated twenty people, entered into felonious suicide pacts with ten and five he believed succeeded. Central to his deviant obsession, Melchert-Dinkel encouraged his victims to stream their suicides live on webcam for him to watch. Sentenced on May 4, 2011, Melchert-Dinkel was given 320 days in jail and for ten years thereafter, incarcerated for two days per year on the anniversaries of the victim’s deaths.
In September 2012, The 2012 Norton Cyber Crime Report was released that studied the impact of cyber crime and included a survey of 12,000 adults in 24 countries. The report provided an authoritative and accurate picture of the scope of cyber crime globally and the results were shocking.
The 2011 Norton study calculated the cost of global cyber crime at 114 billion dollars annually. Based on the value victims surveyed placed on time lost due to their cyber crime experiences, an additional 274 billion dollars were lost. With 431 million adult victims at an annual price of 388 billion dollars globally based on financial losses and time lost, cyber crime cost the world significantly more than the global black market in marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined estimated to be $288 billion dollars.
According to the Norton Cyber Crime Report, more than 2/3 of online adults (69%) had been a victim of cyber crime in their lifetime. Every second 14 adults became a victim of cyber crime, resulting in more than one million cyber crime victims a day. For the first time, the Norton Cyber Crime Report revealed that 10% of adults online had experienced cyber crime on their mobile phone. In fact, the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, Volume 16 reported there were 42% more mobile vulnerabilities in 2010 compared to the previous year.
With these incredible results, it signified that cyber criminals were starting to focus their efforts on the mobile device users. The number of reported new mobile operating system vulnerabilities increased, from 115 in 2009 to 163 in 2010. In addition to threats on mobile devices, increased social networking and a lack of protection were considered the main culprits behind the growing number of cyber crime victims.
On September 22, 2010, Tyler Clementi (December 19, 1991–September 22, 2010,) an eighteen-year-old student attending Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in New York. His roommate and a fellow hall mate used an instant messaging software application to view, without Clementi’s knowledge, Clementi kissing another man.
The roommate later attempted to view Clementi’s sexual encounters a second time and drew attention to the event by making Twitter postings to his 150 followers and in private messages to his friends. After discovering that his roommate had secretly used a webcam to stream his romantic interlude with another man over the Internet, he jumped off the George Washington Bridge.
The roommate, who faced fifteen charges, included invasion of privacy, witness tampering, and evidence with further charges of bias intimidation attached to some of the basic charges. The roommate was found guilty of all 15 counts on March 16, 2012, including all four bias intimidation charges. He was not charged with a role in the suicide itself. His accomplice was not charged in exchange for testifying against the roommate and doing community service. The suicide of Mr. Clementi focused the United States on the victimization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth and the growth and negative impact of cyber bullying. Public figures, including Ellen DeGeneres and President Barack Obama, spoke out about the tragedy and New Jersey legislators enacted the nation’s toughest law against bullying and harassment in January 2011.
“Welcome to the unseemly and perverse world of iPredator.” Michael Nuccitelli Psy.D., C.F.C. (2011)
iPredator is a global term used to distinguish all online users who engage in criminal, deviant or abusive behaviors using ICT. Whether the offender is a cyber bully, cyber stalker, cyber criminal, online sexual predator, Internet troll or cyber terrorist, they fall within the scope of iPredator. There are three criteria used to define an iPredator including:
I. A self-awareness of causing harm to others, directly or indirectly, using ICT. II. The intermittent to frequent usage of ICT to obtain, exchange and deliver harmful information. III. A general understanding of Cyberstealth to engage in criminal or deviant acts or to profile, identify, locate, stalk and engage a target.
When an offender profile includes these three characteristics, they meet the definition of iPredator. Of the three measures used to define an iPredator, the first criteria, a self-awareness of causing harm to others, directly or indirectly, using ICT, can be difficult to confirm unless the online user has personally assessed their own motivations. When others attempt to valuate if someone is an iPredator using factor one, they must use circumstantial evidence leading to the conclusion the ICT user is aware of the direct or indirect harm they are causing others using ICT.
In relationship to cyber bullying, there is a small percentage of young ICT users who are either ignorant of the harm they are causing another child or genuinely believe they are joking. Another small sub-group of ICT offenders not meeting the criteria defining an iPredator are those suffering from a verifiable psychiatric disorder (i.e. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, etc.) as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association. ICT users who suffer from severe psychiatric disorders may not be aware that their ICT activities are causing the recipient significant distress.
Of the total pool of suspected and genuine iPredators, this writer estimates 1-3% of ICT perpetrators are not aware of the direct or indirect harm they are inflicting upon their victims and do not fit the criteria for iPredator. Whereas the American judicial system casts a large net for defining the intent and culpability of a defendant, this proverbial net is greatly decreased when defining an iPredator. If an ICT user suspects they are causing others harm, engages in ICT activities and uses the veil of anonymity afforded to all ICT users, they are both culpable for their actions and defined as an iPredator.
A fourth criterion, not included in the triad defining an iPredator, is what this writer has termed iPredator Victim Intuition (IVI) and reserved for seasoned iPredators. IVI is the aptitude to sense a target’s online vulnerabilities, weaknesses and technological limitations increasing their success with minimal ramifications. iPredators, through practice and learning, develop a sense and/or skill of being able to experience an intuition to know what ICT user will be a successful target.
Just as classic criminals can “case” a home or sexual predators choose the most vulnerable child to abduct, the iPredator is able to do the same using information they compile from a variety of online and offline sources and contacts they may or may not have with a potential victim. Based on the typology of iPredator, the areas they investigate in their strategy of targeting a victim include:
- The amount of personal information a potential target discloses using ICT.
- The frequency a potential target discloses their contact information using ICT.
- The content of the information a potential target discloses using ICT.
- The lack of ICT safety measures a potential target institutes online.
- The potential targets willingness to discuss sensitive issues including sexual topics, financial information, their physical location, parental or adult monitoring of their ICT activities, experiences of distress at home, work, school and interpersonal or intrapersonal issues.
- The amount of time the potential target spends online.
- The type of information a potential target discloses on their social networking profiles (i.e. Facebook, MySpace, MyYearbook, LinkedIn etc.)
- The potential target’s offline and ICT absent demeanor leading the iPredator to conclude the ICT user will be an easy target.
- The potential target’s ignorance to appropriately confront negative information being generated by an iPredator.
- The potential target’s probability of not having social system support, legal/law enforcement support or knowledge of intervention strategies if attacked via ICT.
- The quantity and themes of images and/or videos a potential target shares using ICT.
- The pattern of “likes” and “dislikes” an ICT user discloses on their social networking site profiles.
- The frequency a potential target changes their profile images and information on their social networking site profiles.
- Images and/or videos showing the potential target’s economic status, the layout of their residence or their material objects they or their loved ones own.
- Images, videos and posts disseminated using ICT of the potential target’s choice of lifestyle and/or material objects.
- Images, videos and posts disseminated using ICT of the potential target’s lifestyle.
- Images, videos and posts disseminated using ICT of the potential target’s needs, wishes and desires.
- Images, videos and posts disseminated using ICT suggesting the potential target is suffering from psychological and/or psycho-social dysfunction.
Although there are other factors an iPredator uses in their repertoire of exhibiting IVI, the eighteen factors listed are recommended to evaluate by all online users to reduce their chances of becoming an iPredator target. Not included in these factors and apply to all online users is the unfortunate reality of being targeted by an iPredator as part of a mass trolling scheme. This occurs most often in cyber crime when the potential target receives an email asking them to open an attachment or gulled into providing personal information. This cyber crime and cyber bullying tactic is often called “Phishing.”
An iPredator’s IVI acumen is based on practice, trial and error, understanding of human behavior and knowledge of Internet safety practices and ICT. Just as a locksmith has expertise at unlocking locks, an iPredator has expertise choosing a target they have concluded will not cause them to be identified, apprehended or punished. An iPredator’s IVI falls upon a continuum of dexterity whereby some iPredators are advanced in their IVI skills and other iPredators are novices. Whether the iPredator is advanced or novice in their IVI acumen, the fact that they engage in developing an IVI makes them a potentially dangerous ICT user.
In addition to having IVI, the iPredator practices Cyberstealth using multiple covert strategies. In fact, the third criteria used to define an iPredator include a general understanding of Cyberstealth used to engage in criminal or deviant acts or to profile, identify, locate, stalk and engage a target. Also lying upon a continuum of expertise, iPredators are assessed as being advanced in their Cyberstealth practices as opposed to a haphazard approach of targeting a victim without attempting to hide their identity. Often times, cyber bullies, ex-partners, ex-employees, angry or self-righteous online users, Internet trolls, organized groups with political, religious, moralistic causes, child molesters, pedophiles and highly narcissistic online users do not attempt to hide their identities. Cyberstealth is a strategy reserved for iPredators who seek to hide their identities online.
Cyberstealth, a concept formulated along with iPredator, is a term used to define a method and/or strategies by which iPredators devise tactics to establish and sustain complete anonymity while they troll and stalk an online target. In addition to a stratagem, Cyberstealth is a reality of ICT that humanity often fails to fathom leading some ICT users to become high probability targets. Cyberstealth is a learned behavior that becomes more advanced with practice, trial and error and experimentation.
For some iPredators, they seek the advice and consultation of other iPredators to hone their skills. In the realm of nefarious motivated “hacking,” some iPredators actively seek the insight from other hackers to advance their knowledge base. Although “hackers” tend to be considered by the general mainstream as villainous, there are two distinct groups defined by their motivations. “Black Hat Hackers” engage in nefarious and malevolent online activities. “White Hat Hackers” are ICT security experts.
“Given the Internet and ICT inherently affords everyone’s anonymity, Cyberstealth used by iPredators range from negligible to highly complex and multi-faceted.“ Michael Nuccitelli Psy.D., C.F.C.
Like IVI, Cyberstealth is a learned behavior that becomes more advanced through trial and error, experimentation, consultation with other online users who engage in malevolent or nefarious activities and investigation of ICT products and services focused on hiding an ICT user’s identity and the ability to engage in anonymous surveillance. In addition to being a learned behavior, Cyberstealth may also include an inherited aptitude, capacity or skill set just as some people have special skills even though they are new to a craft.
The rationale for using “stealth” in the suffix of Cyberstealth, serves to remind ICT users the primary intent fueling many iPredators. This motivation is to hide their identity by designing fictive online profiles, identities, tactics and methods to ensure their identities remain concealed reducing recognition and castigation. Therefore, as the Internet and ICT naturally offers all users’ anonymity if they decide, iPredators actively design profiles and diversionary tactics to remain undetected and untraceable.
Stealth: According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, Stealth is “the act or action of proceeding furtively, secretly, or imperceptibly.” Stealth as an adjective is, “intended not to attract attention.” The American Heritage dictionary defines Stealth as “the act of moving, proceeding or acting in a covert way and the quality or characteristic of being furtive or covert.”
Cyberstealth is a covert method by which iPredators are able to establish and sustain complete anonymity while they engage in ICT activities planning their next assault, investigating innovative surveillance technologies or researching the social profiles of their next target. When profiling or conducting an investigation of an iPredator, their level of Cyberstealth complexity, digital footprint, victim preferences, ICT skills and behavioral patterns are used to identify who they are.
As stated above, iPredator is a global concept that includes children, adults and organized groups who directly or indirectly use ICT to harm or exploit others. The goal of the United States and all industrialized nations is to stop the growth of iPredators by educating its citizens on their tactics and strategies. From a profiling and investigation standpoint, assessment of an iPredator’s Cyberstealth tactics and Digital Footprint can assist authorities in their profiling, identification and apprehension. Just as classic criminal profiles have signatures used to apprehend them, iPredators have digital signatures as well.
Technological advancements have changed the way humanity interacts, exchanges and accesses information. Smartphones, mobile devices and social media are the latest in a succession of advancements growing at a feverish pace. It is often difficult to imagine that the Internet used by more than two billion people globally celebrated its 20th birthday in 2011. Clearly, the Information Age has spread to all corners of the planet.
As of December 31, 2011, Nielsen Online, International Telecommunications Union, GfK and Internet estimate 2,267,233,742 people globally are Internet users having grown by 528% from 2000-2011. Despite its already significant impact, the pace of new-technology introductions and number of Internet users will continue to grow at an accelerated rate with access to and the exchange of information being a priori. The Cisco Visual Networking Index 2010-2015 Forecast predicts that the number of global Internet users will reach 3 billion people, 40% of the world’s population, by 2015. Even more astonishing is by 2015, 1,000,000 minutes of video per second will stream over the Internet.
Although ICT benefits far outweigh detriments for society, humanity has been seduced by the notion that more technology translates into a better quality of life. Along with this distorted societal perception, humanity also fails to heed the warnings of prophetic authors of the past century that wrote about chilling glimpses of a dystopian society. A dystopia in literature portrays a society on the edge of destruction and authoritarian control due to utter reliance upon ICT.
Given this societal ICT dependency, personal freedoms are banished and citizens are left at the mercy of the government’s eccentric rules and demands. If dystopia were to occur in a real world environment, the effects would be devastating and shocking. In such an atmosphere, citizens would become demoralized, conditioned in thoughts and actions to adhere to administrative goals, experience a loss of independence and forfeit their self-reliance due to the constraints by governments placed on free will.
Dystopia is “the concept of humans abusing technology and humans individually and collectively coping, or not being able to properly cope with technology that has progressed far more rapidly than humanity’s spiritual evolution. Dystopia societies are often imagined as police states, with unlimited power over the citizens.” (Wikipedia)
Nowhere is the picture of Dystopia more clearly depicted than through the literary genre of science fiction. Expressed in the literary works of writers such as Ray Bradbury, Aldous Huxley and George Orwell, humanity becomes increasingly separate from one another led by technology. If not addressed, some predict humanity will enter an age that is the embodiment of dystopia depicted in Ray Bradbury’s novel, “Fahrenheit 451.” The similarities between humanity’s current condition and Ray Bradbury’s well-crafted, cold, detached characters in Fahrenheit 451 are intriguing to say the least. Bradbury’s depiction of a society in which technology has replaced human effort and thought, eerily parallels technological forecasts of contemporary culture.
“We are living in a time when flowers are trying to live on flowers, instead of growing on good rain and black loam.” – Faber (Fahrenheit 451)
The concept of being “connected” paradoxically makes us less connected to what is really happening globally. As ICT becomes increasingly widespread, the less we know our neighbors and the more we assume we know the people with whom we are “connected” to online. Humanity slowly separates, isolates and disconnects from human contact on a real human and spiritual level.
Society is being lulled into a false sense of trust and reliance on technology, taking information and “connection” to others in cyberspace at face value. Like the child in the fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood, innocently wandering through the forest, humanity erroneously believes that the “Wolf” is whoever he appears or claims to be. Just as Little Red Riding Hood, humanity is in danger of falling prey to a predator called iPredator.
Although disguised, Little Red Riding could see her predator, whereas humanity cannot thanks to Cyberstealth and the inherent anonymity provided by ICT. It is amazing how this fairy tale, created centuries ago, evolved to become a story about a child that resembles the tactics of impersonation used in cyber bullying and online sexual predator stalking and “grooming.” Unfortunately, the theme of a predator disguised, as someone else is exactly what now occurs in cyberspace.
By virtue of this proverbial “cloak of anonymity” so conveniently provided by ICT, iPredators troll cyberspace with a distinct advantage in their ability to represent themselves in any way they choose. Furthermore, they can secretly stalk their prey by tracking the potential victim’s path from an undetectable, safe distance. Not only can iPredators become anyone they choose to be, they can also become anyone their victim may subconsciously desire them to be.
The repercussions of the unrestricted latitude of iPredators will be catastrophic for not only the individual, but for society, and potentially, the world over. Therefore, before it is too late, society must re-examine the phenomenon of “social networking” via technology. Humanity must become educated in the Dark Psychology of ICT and learn to respect the mighty potential for harm that lurks beneath its surface. Society has now become ripe for the birth and growth of a new human predator advanced in all things Internet. This deviant’s name is iPredator.
The arena iPredators stalk their targets is cyberspace with physical contact often a secondary objective. Cyberspace is a hypothetical environment involving all ICT users interconnected through computers, telecommunications and the Internet without regard to physical location. William Gibson invented the term cyberspace, which he used in his 1984 novel, Neuromancer.
In 2012, cyberspace describes the non-physical terrain created by ICT. In its advanced form, cyberspace has evolved into virtual reality. Online users presented with visual, auditory and tactile feedback experience virtual reality in cyberspace as a real domain. Thus, virtual reality creates a perceptual illusion mimicking a realistic atmosphere. As virtual reality progresses in its endeavor to mimic physical reality, humanity continue to be amazed by the perceptual reality created, even though virtual reality is a mere infant in its inevitable development.
Whereas virtual reality is positive and artificial, iPredators are both very real and potentially very dangerous. In all cases, iPredators exhibit minimal disquiet for the victim’s psychological welfare by injecting fear, embarrassment and distress in their lives. As stated, the iPredator is the antithesis to the positive environment created by virtual reality. It is also fair to assume that iPredators will include virtual reality in their future Cyberstealth strategies as technology advances. Given virtual reality is an illusion, why would iPredators not incorporate this growing technology into their criminal, deviant or abusive strategies? The goal is not to be one step ahead of iPredators, but know they exist.
Unlike traditional human predators prior to the Information Age, iPredators rely on the multitude of benefits offered by ICT. These assistances include exchange of information over long distances, rapidity of information exchanged and the seemingly infinite access to the data available. Malevolent in intent, iPredators rely on their capacity to deceive others using ICT in an abstract electronic universe. Within the next three decades, iPredator acts of theft, violence, abuse, cyber warfare and cyber terrorism will grow into a global plague if not quashed and thwarted. Society cannot rely on governments to confront all groups of iPredators because they are everywhere and live within our communities.
In early 2011, United States intelligence officials raised concerns about the growing vulnerability the United States faced with cyber warfare threats and malicious computer activity. C.I.A. Director, Leon Panetta testified on Capitol Hill before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence stating, “The potential for the next Pearl Harbor could very well be a cyber-attack.” The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper testified stating, “This threat is increasing in scope and scale, and its impact is difficult to overstate.” Clapper also stated, “There are roughly 60,000 new malicious computer programs identified each day. Some of these are what we define as advanced, persistent threats, which are difficult to detect and counter.” Director Panetta also stated to the committee, “This is a real national security threat that we have to pay attention to. I know there are a lot of aspects to it. The Internet, the cyber-arena … is a vastly growing area of information that can be used and abused in a number of ways.”
As of 2012, United States officials from the National Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. continue to prepare for cyber security threats. The military activated the United States Cyber Command in 2009 to coordinate the military’s cyberspace resources. The United States Cyber Command functions to counter national security threats to the Pentagon’s information networks and the United States cyberspace operations and intelligence. As the United States and the rest of the world’s industrialized nations prepare for cyber warfare and cyber terrorism, the global community must also concurrently prepare for both cyber terrorism and homeland iPredators.
As described, iPredators use a tactical weapon this writer has termed “Cyberstealth” furnished by ICT. Cyberstealth is a method iPredators create and implement while they taunt, troll and stalk their prey. iPredators target online users, corporate entities and organized groups oblivious, inexperienced, ill informed or unaware they are covertly being evaluated as a potential target for a cyber attack.
In nature, wild animals stalk and measure their prey using stealth and tactical strategies increasing their probability of success while decreasing potential for injury. iPredators also use stealth, Cyberstealth, to stalk online users increasing the probability of achieving their aims, while decreasing their potential of identification and punishment. As this writer illustrates in his theoretical report, Dark Psychology, humans are the only living organisms that stalk, hunt and attack their own species without the primary instinctual drives of procreation, territorial control, survival or food. Although humanity is the apex living organism on Earth, they are also the apex of brutality upon ourselves and other living creatures.
The prime targets sought by iPredators are ICT users not intellectually, psychologically and technologically equipped. Their targets lack ICT safety strategies and technology, heightened levels of awareness online, a healthy level of skepticism, comprehensive digital citizenship practices and C3 (cyber safety, cyber security and cyber ethics) plans.
Using Cyberstealth, iPredators have considerably lower probabilities of identification, legal ramifications or injury. Prior to ICT, assailants had to be far more creative in their methods. Now equipped with ICT and trained in Cyberstealth, they can create counterfeit identities or manipulate others using embellished personas of who they envision themselves to be most influential to others. If they so choose, iPredators can start and end their day sitting in their home in front of their computer ad infinitum.
Computer science experts, sociologists and psychologists tend to describe ICT and the Internet as beneficial tools for humanity. Based on this writer’s investigative findings leading to the creation of iPredator, he perceives this new dimension and the tools required for access quite differently. Although this writer regards the World Wide Web, Telecommunications, Digital Technology and Mobile Device Technology as all highly beneficial tools and areas extremely helpful to society, he recognizes tools have many different purposes. When chosen for nefarious or malevolent reasons, ICT and the Internet are tools that become weapons. iPredators primarily use ICT as weapons in their efforts to offend, dominate, control or steal.
Unlike any other tool, ICT, as weapons, can cause horrible and deadly consequences to both the citizens and communities of the countries they hail from. The future of Cyber Warfare and Cyber Terrorism are both inevitable realities that have yet, in 2012, cause massive harm to society. As this writer continues to research the growth, expansion and underpinnings of iPredators, he has concluded Cyber Warfare and Cyber Terrorism will become terms feared by humanity within the next two decades. Within five decades, most industrialized nations will allocate a majority of their defense budgets to protecting their citizens from the potential devastation caused by iPredators.
Prior to ICT, all methods of communication involved some form of identification and response recognition skills using at least one of the five senses. Although deception, crime and immoral acts were committed, they entailed far more creativity, design and planning than what is required online and in cyber space. Even when tribes used smoke signals to communicate hundreds of years ago, the group watching the signals had a rough estimate of who were the senders and what location the messages were coming from.
In cyberspace, humanity’s physical senses are relatively subdued as we exchange and/or verify information. ICT users attempt to identify and validate information as valid, at times, completely isolated from the source. The “veil of invisibility” that ICT and cyberspace offers humanity has numerous benefits, but the detriments can far outweigh the assistances for the vulnerable, unaware or ignorant online user.
iPredators use Cyberstealth for vindictive, abusive, malevolent or criminal pursuits. They purposely strategize and plan how they will use Cyberstealth without the negative consequences of law enforcement or authority figure identification. The energy required in planning and designing Cyberstealth strategies by an iPredator correlates with their perverse objectives. To the child cyber bully, they tend to practice minimal online deception given they are fueled by needs of recognition and peer acceptance. Depending on the cyber bullies strategy of taunting and harassment, their Cyberstealth may range from non-existent to cyber bullying by proxy.
Cyber bullying by proxy occurs when a cyber bully coerces or encourages other online users, who do not know the target victim, to become an accomplice of the cyber bully and join in assaulting, taunting or harassing the target child. The unfortunate reality for the target child is they are deluged by hurtful and harassing information not necessarily knowing who or how many online users are attacking them. Cyber bullying by proxy and truly a heinous act committed upon children.
At the advanced end of the Cyberstealth continuum are online sexual predators, cyber criminals and those seeking to target online users motivated by violent and/or sadistic intent. Although the majority of child sexual assaults take place offline by friends, family members and young adults close in age to the target child, there still are thousands of online sexual predators, confirmed by the FBI, trolling online for discouraged, easily manipulated children. In May 2011, the FBI released a short video to the public reporting there were 750,000 child predators online at any given time. Although this number is astronomical, this writer does not recall this unfortunate and alarming estimate being reported on the nightly news or in the headlines of print media.
As part of the human condition, humans tend to embellish their attributes, both offline & online endeavoring to present themselves as more successful, popular, rich, attractive and worldly. The purpose of embellishing attributes is not to abuse or victimize the recipient, but to increase perceived worth. This form of “bragging” or embellishing” has been social aspects of interpersonal relationships since the beginning of humanity. Presenting oneself in the best possible light is not only restricted to humans, but occurs among the vast majority of living organisms as well. A male Peacock does not unfurl his massive blue plumes of feathers simply to air them out. He does this to show other Peacocks he is healthy and valuable. In cyberspace, ICT users who brag about their attributes or material wealth are practicing the same deceptive behavior as the Peacock.
When used for malevolent or nefarious purposes online, this innate capacity we all have to bolster our image becomes part of Cyberstealth used by iPredators. If an ICT user is caught engaging in felonious statements about themselves, but they do not meet the three criteria for defining iPredator, then their online exaggerations and deceptions do not fit into the definition of Cyberstealth. Online deception requires the motivation to harm other ICT users in order to meet criteria for iPredator.
ICT can paralyze humanity’s innate evolved instincts for “survival of the fittest” and cause many to lose sight of being skeptical and wary of people met in cyberspace. For this reason, it is always vital to be wary about what others disclose online and the modus operandi behind their statements.
Although federal, state, and local officials work diligently to combat iPredators, their endeavors, as of 2012, is minimal at best given the size of the iPredator contingent. iPredators have the luxury of trolling for victims at a leisurely pace without fear of punishment. Unassuming ICT users are easily lulled into complacency and let their digital defenses down because they are either ignorant to iPredator Cyberstealth practices, seeking social acceptance by someone they think will “like them” or engaged in high-risk online behaviors increasing their probability of being targeted. The reasons engaging in high-risk behaviors are multi-faceted, but relied upon by iPredators in order for their Cyberstealth to be effective.
Cyberstealth is an iPredators most powerful weapon in their strategy hunting online human quarry. In order for an iPredator’s Cyberstealth strategy to be successful, they must affiliate and/or target online users who are distracted, distressed, discouraged or dysfunctional (D4). The symbol, D4, is used as a mnemonic device to encourage all online users to maintain awareness of their psychological functioning when interacting with others online. The minimal research on psychological functioning and online victimization suggests an ICT users’ mental state will hinder their ability to practice responsible and safe ICT activities.
Fueled by anger, depression, greed, narcissism and/or sociopathy, many iPredators revel in their ICT anonymity. Many also become grandiose from their criminal and abusive triumphs and feel galvanized knowing they can freely troll for potential victims, seemingly immune from law enforcement identification or apprehension. Depending on their relationship to the victim, iPredators have the freedom to preserve or divulge their identity at will.
Without fearing reprimand, iPredators participate in creative design and focused purpose in their line of attack. As part of the human condition, all humans experience exhilaration and/or satisfaction when they are triumphant. For iPredators, they experience the same states of exuberance, but at the expense of their victim(s). The more malevolent the iPredators endeavors are, the greater sense of accomplishment they feel is they prevail.
Within the next 5 years, smartphones will surpass personal computers for connecting to the Internet. By the end of 2012, the number of mobile connected devices will exceed the world’s population and by 2016, there will be over 10 billion mobile-connected devices, including machine-to-machine (M2M) modules that will exceed the world’s population of 7.3 billion people (Cisco VNI Forecast.) Given the obvious benefits ICT offers, time spent interacting online will increasingly become commonplace for all humanity.
The new dimension of cyberspace is unchartered territory filled with opportunity and hope. The antitheses to these opportunities are iPredators. Without strict penal regulations, a sustained law enforcement presence and structured educational methods, cyberspace will become a prime hunting environment for iPredators’ abusive, criminal or sexually deviant pursuits.
Although this writer staunchly advocates for online privacy, iPredators must have ingrained in the back of their minds a serious potential exists for their identification, apprehension and prosecution when they engage in nefarious and/or malevolent online activities. The future of mobile is now upon humanity, but only the ICT forecasters and criminal science experts understand the dangers to ICT users if not prepared. As of 2012, Internet security experts report mobile device technology continues to grow, but network security and cyber security remains too simplistic. A world with every citizen walking around with unsecured mobile devices is “iPredator Utopia.”
“Mobile media communication has turned the world into a global information hub.” (MOCOM 2020)
5PV is a five factor theoretic model used to conceptualize digital abuser/victim dynamics and all social interactions between people who use ICT and the Internet. These online users are segmented into three distinct groups categorized by their ICT intent, actions and motivations. The first group is users who access and interact with other ICT users for benevolent and/or purely social reasons. They use ICT for what it was intended for and do not use cyberspace to offend, steal from or harm others. The opposite of this group are the iPredators who use ICT and the Internet to harm, victimize, steal from or abuse others.
Just as in humanity’s offline environment, cyberspace has thieves, criminals, deviants and those who seek to harm others. Given there is no accurate way to validate the number of iPredators, this writer believes there are far more iPredators than there are offline criminals, deviants, bullies and assailants. The rationale for this assumption is based on the understanding of the anonymous environment provided in cyberspace available to all online users. When using a desktop computer or mobile device, there is not a person and/or authority figure standing before ICT users monitoring and observing their actions. In cyberspace, the ICT user has complete privacy and anonymity.
Although privacy and anonymity can be enjoyable environmental states, those with villainous and/or secret enterprises use this anonymity to suit their selfish goals. For this reason, cyberspace is a perfect open territory for those who set out to abuse or victimize others. The group of ICT users that combine with the overt criminals, assailants and deviants are those who have always thought about or wanted to engage in asocial behaviors, but never did fearing identification and castigation.
Given the ICT and the Internet affords everyone total anonymity if they choose, the ICT user with ill intent can explore and/or activate his/her darkest secrets. Hence, this writer posits there are far many more iPredators online than human predators offline because of the anonymous environment created by cyberspace. This population of ICT users falls in between the malevolent and benevolent groups and make up the third and largest percentage. Just as offline humanity walks through life having their moral turpitude tested, online users experience the same tests regarding their intent, actions and motivations. The primary difference is these tests in cyberspace are not graded by authority figures and/or loved ones.
The five terms pertaining to 5PV model of digital abuser/victim dynamics are iPredator, iPrey, iPrevention, iPreservation and iVictim. The 5PV Model is a representation of the five elements involved in all ICT, cyberspace and the criminal, deviant or abusive interactions between online users. The primary difference between the 5PV model and other criminal and deviant victimization dynamics is the environment in which offender and victim interact. This environment, which benefits iPredator, is the Geosocial Universe. Unlike any other territory, cyberspace is a frontier where the potential victim has little authority to evaluate their social exchanges in a realistic way.
ICT and Cyberstealth have afforded the criminal, deviant and sociopath pristine anonymity in their hunt for potential victims. It is in this realm, cyberspace, that iPredators are able to create a persona judged effective in their tactical strategy to achieve success in stalking. Without fear of identification, many iPredators have free reign to behave, interact and personify what they believe to be their most successful scheme. As social networking sites for all aspects of social functioning continue to expand, the territory for iPredators to locate and hunt their targets enlarges as well.
For example, a forty-year-old man can create an online social profile exactly how he feels will be viewed as most favorable by his target. If his prey is a 14-year-old female, he can download adolescent images, develop a creative teen background set up a felonious social profile and then interact with his teen targets as someone close to their age, same gender, stage in life and all the same “likes” and “dislikes” often discussed and rated online. Meanwhile, his potential targets innocently interact with him completely ignorant to his true identity.
This is only one example of the hundreds of ways iPredators use Cyberstealth in cyberspace. Cyberspace and the online world provide iPredators a forum for pristine virtual reality and a forum to seduce their prey into believing their online identities are their true identities and/or their stated motivations are genuine and innocent.
Virtual reality is a term that applies to computer-simulated environments that can simulate the physical presence in places in the real world, as well as in imaginary worlds. Although virtual reality is a new science, this writer can guarantee some iPredators will follow its progression every step of the way. In cyberspace, iPredators no longer have to hide behind the proverbial bushes and they can skulk about in the dimension of cyberspace undetected, hidden and cloaked to perfection. Many iPredators evaluate their target quarry by first assessing if they are exercising personal security, harm reduction or victim prevention measures.
The concept that this writer has termed iPrevention, describes an ICT users sustained practice of Internet safety, cyber security and self-awareness of how they are perceived both offline and online. iPrevention is a strategy, practice and conscious sustained approach to reducing the probability of becoming an iVictim. These strategies involve a concerted effort to learn personal aspects and relevant demographic information about oneself that would increase the chances of becoming a target. If an iPredator resides near and/or is in close geographic proximity to their target, they will use theirs and informant observations to estimate the success rate of their cyber attack.
As ICT will always advance, iPrevention as well must be a proactive and progressive activity. This is not to say that iPrevention requires advanced training in ICT, but a sustained effort to learn and evolve given its rapid expansion. What is required is a willingness to exercise diligent awareness and confirmed acceptance that some iPredators will always be one-step ahead in technological acumen.
Under the theory of iPrevention, the goal is not to be a step ahead of iPredators, but being keenly aware that they are always on the prowl and are using creative Cyberstealth methods to find and stalk their prey. Internet users can reduce the probability of becoming an iVictim, while accessing ICT, by practicing consistent & effective iPrevention. Just as everyone learns, practices and persistently work on developing their skills in any endeavor they strive to attain, the same methods apply to iPrevention.
Equally important in iPrevention is what the ICT user does if they are cyber attacked. Given that the laws of probability state all ICT users will be confronted with some form of iPredator attack in their life, the steps one takes as soon as the cyber attack is initiated helps to reduce the negative consequences the attack intends to achieve. When instituting iPrevention, the ICT user is exhibiting iPreservation.
iPreservation is defined as an innate state of self-survival that manifests in an online user’s ICT and cyberspace environment. Just as humanity has evolved their five senses to survive and thrive, humanity will now have to evolve a new sense to survive and thrive in the infant dimension of cyberspace. Using a symbolic equation, the importance of iPrevention & iPreservation to ICT & Internet safety is as follows:
This simple equation represents a basic formula for all cyber protection and ICT safety initiatives by online users supporting humanity’s constitutional survival instincts. Although cyberspace is clearly an abstract electronic universe that really does not exist, humanity both perceives and experiences the digital world as a genuine place having vital importance. iPreservation is an internal experience that signals the online user to behave and act accordingly when online or engaged in ICT usage.
Although self-preservation is ingrained in all living organisms, some ICT users lose this instinct in cyberspace. Just as the anonymity of cyberspace allows some ICT users to act and behave uncharacteristic of their true selves, the same phenomenon occurs in the realm of self-preservation. Because there is not another person and/or entity in front of them when online, some ICT users lose their natural proclivity to be cautious. iPreservation is both an innate instinct to survive and learned behavior to not want to be attacked. Even though an ICT user may be alone to online, their iPreservation keeps them cautious in the realm of cyberspace. iPreservation is the need and will to survive in the electronic universe called cyberspace.
In addition to the time spent and information shared while in cyberspace, advanced ICT and online safety skills also include awareness of how offline behavior and lifestyle can modify online behavior. Far too many adults and parents of children fail to be cognizant that offline circumstances and psychological stressors dictate and govern online behaviors. In this writer’s entire file of research and hours of investigation engaged in the formulation of the construct of iPredator, the one theme emphasized throughout his entire philosophical framework is as follows:
Offline Distress Dictates Online Response or ODDOR postulates that both a child and adult’s response to their offline environment is directly correlated to how they behave online. When home, school, work, finances or other offline factors are causing significant distress, research has proven online users of all ages are more apt to be less vigilant in their Internet safety tactics and more likely to engage in high risk online behaviors. Under the concept of D4 (distracted, distressed, discouraged or dysfunctional,) online users that have been highly stressed offline are profiles the iPredator seeks to target. Depending on the advanced IVI (iPredator Victim Intuition) of the iPredator, an online users ODDOR can be quickly recognized by an iPredator.
As stated, iPreservation is defined as an innate and learned reservoir of fuel or drive for lowering our probability of becoming a victim at the hands of an iPredator. This concept is an active “state of awareness” consistently observed by online users recognizing cyberspace is always an abstract concept and not a real dimension of space or reality. The innate need for survival should become pronounced in all humanity in the digital world given that iPredators are protected by Cyberstealth, guided by conquest and domination and growing in numbers as ICT evolves and spreads.
iPreservation is also defined as an instinctual motivation to institute a set of behavioral goals in order to lower the probability of becoming a victim of an iPredator. iPreservation is both a state of being and a need to engage in the diligent practice of iPrevention. If someone is consciously aware that iPredators spend a considerable amount of time and energy trolling for vulnerable targets, that online user experiences a sense and/or need to preserve their safety and engage in the tactics and strategies to ensure their identity is not divulged.
“The motivation for iPreservation is not based on fear of iPredator, but rather, in the awareness they exist.“ Michael Nuccitelli Psy.D., C.F.C.
The ideal target for an iPredator is an ICT user who does not take the necessary steps required to reduce their probability of becoming a mark. High probability ICT user targets tend to practice denial, view themselves as too technologically advanced or outside the purview of an iPredator. When one or more of these elements are evident and/or perceived by ICT users, they are in the arena of an iPredator.
iPredator’s antisocial pursuits are fueled by their distorted perceptions of self-preservation, narcissism and needs to dominate and control. For many of these miscreants, iPredators believe they must victimize others in order to thrive, sometimes to survive, to feel socially accepted and often for a sense of accomplishment, right or vindication. Their motivations to harm others are not always restrained by guilt or remorse, because they perceive their actions towards a target and/or victim is deserved and the online user should have expected it given their attitude, actions or ignorance. Perceiving their actions in this way, iPredators justify the purpose of their malevolent and nefarious behaviors allowing them to harm others without feeling remorse.
Given that the concept of iPredator includes all ICT users, who attempt to taunt, victimize or abuse others using ICT, the easiest way to define the cornucopia of assailants and their core constructs are defined as lacking an Adlerian concept called, Social Interest. Social Interest was postulated and defined by a turn of the century Austrian physician and psychologist, Alfred Adler. In the simplest form, Social Interest, as defined by Alfred Adler, is an attitude or macroscopic outlook towards being charitable, helpful and interested in the personal pursuit of furthering the welfare of others. Adler went on to theorize that these elements of the human psyche, which inspired people to help others, are central to a person’s sense of well-being, stable mental health and functional adaptability.
From this thesis, Adler strongly believed people with low Social Interest were discouraged, angry and enveloped by a sense of inferiority or by what he termed an Inferiority Complex. Although Adler never experienced ICT and the advent of iPredators, his theory of Social Interest conceived almost a century ago certainly defines what appears to be an iPredator’s proclivity to behave in an abusive, hostile, aggressive or criminal/deviant manner. As cost decreases with ICT, the population of Internet users will steadily increase.
Once again, iPredators use the same methodologies animal predators use in their hunt for food. The only difference being iPredators do not stalk for survival, food, procreation and/or territory. They stalk their quarry for deviant sexual needs, distorted sociopathic endeavors, criminal intentions, immature developmental needs to be accepted or psychological/psychiatric issues. iPredators tend to be male, but female iPredators are steadily growing at a rapid as Information and Communications Technology becomes more commonplace in daily living.
The entire population of online users in the 5PV model of criminal, deviant and harmful interaction between online users, called iPrey, represents all the potential targets in an iPredator’s reservoir of possible choices. Everyone who interacts with ICT falls within this group. Just as a massive herd of Wildebeest are all fair game to a pride of lions, so too are all ICT users potential targets to iPredators.
iPrey can be a low, medium or a high probability target for iPredators. Low probability targets are ICT users who are consciously aware there is malevolent people online who will attempt to victimize them if they let their guard down. Medium probability targets are as aware as low probability targets, yet are more susceptible given their age, gender or mental acumen. This is not to say that children, females or senior citizens cannot practice ICT & Internet safety or insulate themselves from victimization, but certain factors, age & gender, outside of their control, place them in preferred target populations of an iPredator.
High probability targets of iPrey are ICT users who do not practice ICT and online safety for various reasons. These reasons include ignorance to Internet safety and security, thinking they are irrelevant, simply not caring and/or knowingly engaging in high-risk online activities. Online users who are high probability targets are at an increased risk of becoming a member of the unfortunate group called iVictims.
The concept of iVictim, victimology and the development of victimization reduction strategies are all crucial to anyone who plans to be an active ICT user either for personal or professional use. Even when a person is a proactive online user, engaged in a healthy offline lifestyle, skilled at practicing Internet safety and diligent in their practices, it is still very important to regularly investigate the field of victimology. The understanding of the 5PV Model and its philosophical underpinnings are extraordinarily important for children, adults and parents. iPredators seek out and stalk ICT users evaluated to be lax in practicing iPrevention while traveling through cyberspace. Everyone using ICT is a potential iVictim of an iPredator.
Just as wild animals and insects stalk their prey for food, iPredators seek ICT users they have deemed approachable. In the wild, predators stalk and hunt prey they have evaluated to be a highly favorable target, profiled to be the weakest and least intimidating. The most vulnerable targets for both the animal and insect predator and iPredators are the young, the old, the feeble or wounded. Given that the vast majority of iPredators tend to be males, they often target females due to their distorted perception that females are weaker and/or less clever.
This rule does not apply to cyber bullies, as these segments of iPredators are primarily same gender. The role of males being the predominant online assailants is quickly changing as ICT becomes more relevant to societal communications. Although in 2012 gender male continues to be the larger group of ICT offender, the rate of female iPredators steadily increases.
Ignorance, discouragement, psychologically compromised, lack of skepticism, isolative tendencies and curiosity are but a few traits an iPredator looks for in hunting for an iVictim. In addition to being adept at practicing Cyberstealth, iPredators are trained at sensing the qualities that they deem advantageous to initiate the hunt. By utilizing iPrevention tactics, an individual reduces their potential to becoming an iVictim while interfacing with ICT.
The concept of iPredator is a global concept and as of 2012 includes the typologies as follows: Cyber Bullies, Cyber Stalkers, Cyber Harassers, Cyber Criminals, Online Child Predators, Cyber Terrorists and anyone who uses ICT and the Internet to anger others or engage in deceptive or deviant behaviors. This writer is confident with the expansion of ICT and the growing influence the Information Age has upon humanity, there will be a plethora of new ways for criminals, deviants, terrorists and other factions of society to harm, victimize and assault other humans.
iPredator Inc. is a New York State based Information Age Forensics company founded in September 2011 to provide educational and advisory products & services to consumers and organizations on cyberbullying, cyber harassment, cyberstalking, cybercrime, internet defamation, cyber terrorism, online sexual predation and the new field the founder is pioneering he has termed, Information Age Psychology. Created by a NYS licensed psychologist and certified forensic consultant, Michael Nuccitelli Psy.D., their goal is to reduce victimization, theft and disparagement from online assailants.
In addition to assisting citizens, their mission is to initiate a national sustained educational & awareness campaign with the help of private, state and federal agencies. Dr. Nuccitelli and iPredator Inc. colleagues and associates regular update their criminal psychology, cybercrime & forensics blog, called Dark Psychology and their Internet Safety & Information Age Predator blog called Dr. Internet Safety. The parent website, iPredator.co (a.k.a. www.iPredatorInc.com), offers site visitors an enormous database on Cyber Criminal Psychology, Internet Safety and Information Age Predators.
For online users interested in learning more about Dark Psychology & iPredator outside the website or forensic & internet safety blogs, please visit their iPredator & Dark Psychology Google + Community pages and all are welcomed to contribute. Although iPredator Inc. has joined a multitude of social networking sites, feel free to visit the social sites listed below they use as their information and announcement vehicles. Dr. Nuccitelli and iPredator Inc. consultants are always available, at no cost, to interact with media. To invite Dr. Nuccitelli to conduct training, educational service or consultation, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 347-871-2416.
- Google +: The iPredator
- Linked In: iPredator
- Twitter: TheiPredator
- YouTube: iPredator Team
- Facebook: The iPredator
“In nature, wild animals stalk and measure their prey using stealth and tactical strategies increasing their probability of success while decreasing potential for injury. iPredators also use stealth, Cyberstealth, to stalk online users increasing the probability of achieving their aims, while decreasing their potential of identification and punishment.” Michael Nuccitelli Psy.D., (2012)
American College of Forensic Examiners Institute announces commitment to iPredator forensic education.
- Michael Nuccitelli Psy.D., C.F.C.
- NYS Licensed Psychologist
- CEO, iPredator Inc.
- Website: www.iPredatorInc.com
- Email: DrNucc@iPredatorInc.com
- Ph: (347) 871-2416
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by Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.