Cyber Attacker Profile Construct
iPredator Bridge is a theoretical sub-construct to iPredator representing the exploration and study of people who use Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to harm others motivated by self-righteousness, moral turpitude, religious/political/philosophical convictions and pro-social perceptual distortions. Not driven by criminal, malevolent or deviant endeavors, iPredator Bridge seeks to define why some people approach the nefarious and malevolent realm of iPredator, decide to proceed, and then continue along a trajectory where their cognitive, affective, behavioral and perceptual actions harm others or societies.
The Information Age1 is a societal paradigm and period of time beginning in the last quarter of the 20th century and presently thriving in the second decade of the 21st century. The Information Age is a stage in societal and technological development similar to the Industrial Revolution2 (1750-1942). The Information Age represents the evolution, emergence, consumption of and reliance upon Information and Communications Technology (ICT). In a mere four decades, ICT and its importance to humanity have led many to surmise that the planet and its human inhabitants are amidst an Information Revolution3. Mobile digital technology, telecommunications, social media and the abstract concept and artificial universe of cyberspace are just a few examples of humanities newest frontiers to obtain, exchange and disseminate information.
The planet is experiencing a shift from traditional industry, born and bred during the Industrial Revolution, to an economy based on the creative and rapid manipulation of information. Just as the Industrial Revolution greatly changed the lives of humanity, the Information Revolution is a societal shift rapidly changing humanity’s social, economic and psychological conditions of the times. The Information Revolution marks another major turning point in history, following the Industrial Revolution and changing every aspect of daily life unlike ever before.
Cyber Attacker Construct
Information and Communications Technology = ICT
Information and Communications Technology4 (ICT) is an umbrella term used to define any electronic or digital communication device or application used to obtain, exchange or disseminate information. ICT stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications, which enable users to create, access, store, transmit, and manipulate information.
ICT consists of all forms of telecommunication, information technology, broadcast media, audio and video processing, transmission and network based control and monitoring functions. ICT has rapidly become one of the basic building blocks of modern society and will become increasingly important as the Information Age matures.
Many industrialized nations now regard understanding ICT and mastering the basic skills and concepts of ICT is vital and now considered part of the core of education, alongside reading, writing and arithmetic. The importance of ICT to humanity lies upon a continuum of relevance ranging from minimal impact to vital requirement regarding an ICT user’s day to day activities. For some, ICT and the Internet are nothing more than tools of convenience for conducting their responsibilities. For others, their social, scholastic, business and/or financial affairs disclosed in cyberspace and through ICT are crucial to their self-esteem, self-worth, success and perceptual world.
ICT has 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 hard to fathom that the Internet, used by two billion plus people globally, only celebrated its 20th birthday in 2011.
As of March 2012, data compiled from Nielsen Online, International Telecommunications Union, GfK and Internet World Stats5 estimate there are 2, 267,233,742 people globally are Internet users as of December 31, 2011. From 2000-2011, the number of Internet users has grown 528% and is just .3% shy of including 1/3 of all human inhabitants walking the planet. 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 (VNI), an ongoing initiative to track and forecast the impact of visual networking applications has projected an explosion in ICT and mobile device technology by 2016. Some of Cisco’s VNI projections are as follows:
1. Annual global IP traffic will surpass the zettabyte6 threshold (1.3 zettabytes) by the end of 2016. In 2016, global IP traffic will reach 1.3 zettabytes per year or 110.3 exabytes per month.
2. Global IP traffic has increased eightfold over the past 5 years, and will increase threefold over the next 5 years. Overall, IP traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29% from 2011 to 2016.
3. In 2016, the gigabyte equivalent of all movies ever made will cross global IP networks every 3 minutes. Global IP networks will deliver 12.5 petabytes7 every 5 minutes in 2016.
4. The number of devices connected to IP networks will be nearly 3X as high as the global population in 2016. There will be nearly three networked devices per capita in 2016, up from over one networked device per capita in 2011.
5. Traffic from wireless devices will exceed traffic from wired devices by 2014. In 2016, wired devices will account for 39% of IP traffic, while Wi-Fi and mobile devices will account for 61% of IP traffic. In 2011, wired devices accounted for the majority of IP traffic at 55%. (Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2011-2016)8
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. The concept of being “connected” paradoxically makes humanity less connected to what is really happening globally. As ICT becomes increasingly widespread, the fewer citizens know their neighbors and the more they engage with people they are “connected” to in cyberspace and ICT. It seems that humanity is slowly separating from one another, isolating themselves with their technology and disconnecting from human contact on both literal and spiritual levels.
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 using ICT and cyberspace. Even during the early stages of human civilization, tribal communities would communicate with each other over long distances using the proverbial “smoke signals.”
Albeit primitive, as a form of communication, these communities could to use their sense of sight to determine a general geographic location of the sender and, if close enough, could use their sense of smell to determine the type of wood being used to create the signals. Both of these methods were used to help them identify the sender and extrapolate if the sender was friend or foe.
In cyberspace, our physical senses are relatively subdued as we exchange and/or verify information as valid in isolation from the source. The “veil of anonymity” afforded to anyone using ICT offers numerous benefits, but the detriments can far outweigh the assistances for the vulnerable or high-risk target. Although the recipient of information in cyberspace can use their senses of sight and hearing, it is still impossible to rely on that information to verify the identity of the sender or his/her intent behind the information. Without having access to the five senses or being able to accurately determine the identity, motivations or location of the sender, a human’s natural tools used in self-preservation and protection are significantly hampered.
Welcome to the Information Age!
The Information Age has presented humanity with the tools and ability to exchange and disseminate information at an accelerated speed. The downside of ICT is that humanity does not access, use or rely upon their five senses9. From an evolutionary and instinctual standpoint, a human’s five senses serve to help them interact with their environment, procreate and survive. In nature and in reality, a human could not survive if they were stripped of all five senses. In addition to having five senses, all humanity has engrained in their genetics the striving for self-preservation.
Having this dynamic of self-preservation is not exclusive to humans, but is wired in all living organisms. The will, urge and inherent traits of self-preservation are universal. Without a living organism having these traits, their species would quickly become extinct.
Whether it is ICT and cyberspace is still in its infancy, human ignorance, denial, technological ineptitude or the proverbial “veil of anonymity” afforded to all ICT users, it seems plausible that for many ICT users, their mechanisms used to activate their drives of self-preservation remains dormant when involved with ICT and cyberspace.
ICT: A Proverbial Information Age Double Edged Sword
Information technology experts, sociologists and psychologists tend to describe ICT as beneficial tools for humanity. Based on this writer’s investigative findings leading to the creation of iPredator and iPredator Bridge, he defines this new dimension quite differently. Although the World Wide Web10, Telecommunications11, Digital Technology12 and Mobile Device Technology13 are highly beneficial tools and areas helpful to society, this writer recognizes tools have many different purposes. When chosen for nefarious reasons, ICT are tools that become weapons. iPredators primarily use ICT as weapons in their efforts to offend, dominate, harm or steal from others.
As ICT continues to expand at a feverish pace coupled with seemingly daily introductions of new technology, ever-increasing obstacles will challenge humanity. Already, ICT users have been confronted by the ever-increasing detriments of having incredible amounts of information, which can be obtained, exchanged and spread at incredible speed. Another challenge, that includes the dark side of humanity, is the usage of ICT and cyberspace to harm others inflicting psychological, physical and/or societal damage. The construct created by this writer that encapsulates these harmful typologies is as follows:
iPredator14: A child, adult or group who, directly or indirectly, engages in exploitation, victimization, stalking, theft or disparagement of others using Information and Communications Technology (ICT.) 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.
iPredator is a global term used to distinguish anyone who engages in criminal, deviant or abusive behaviors using Information and Communications Technology (ICT.) Whether the offender is a cyberbully, cyberstalker, cyber harasser15, cyber criminal, online sexual predator, internet troll16 or cyber terrorist, they fall within the scope of iPredator. The three criteria used to define an iPredator include:
I. A self-awareness of causing harm to others, directly or indirectly, using ICT. II. The intermittent to frequent usage of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to obtain, exchange and deliver harmful information. III. A general understanding of Cyberstealth used to engage in criminal or deviant activities or to profile, identify, locate, stalk and engage a target.
Unlike human predators prior to the Information Age, iPredators rely on the multitude of benefits offered by Information and Communications Technology (ICT.) These assistances include exchange of information over long distances, rapidity of information exchanged and the seemingly infinite access to data available. Malevolent in intent, iPredators rely on their capacity to deceive others using Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in an abstract electronic universe.
iPredator Bridge Definition
iPredator Bridge: iPredator Bridge is a theoretical tenet of iPredator representing the psychological, perceptual & behavioral trajectory of people who use Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to harm others motivate by self-righteousness, moral turpitude, religious/political/philosophical convictions and pro-social perceptual distortions. Not driven by criminal, malevolent or deviant endeavors, iPredator Bridge seeks to define why some people approach the nefarious and malevolent realm of iPredator, decide to proceed, and then continue along a trajectory where their cognitive, affective, behavioral and perceptual actions harm others or societies.
Similar to the iPredator, they are motivated by personal convictions, greed, power, control, narcissism17or psychopathology18. Different from the iPredator, they have yet to fully engage in criminal/deviant activities using ICT or use complex perceptual distortions to validate the harm they cause. iPredator Bridge investigates why some people draw near to this nefarious and malevolent realm and either proceed in their maladaptive trajectory or cease and desist.
Cyberspace and the “Veil of Anonymity”
Hidden in cyberspace, and through ICT, they contemplate the benefits and detriments, proceed, and then continue a path where their cognitive and perceptual processes are focused upon directly or indirectly harming others. For those who cross this proverbial bridge, they enter a world where their choices are increasingly governed by criminal, deviant, immoral and maladaptive processes.
Although it is assumed all humanity, has residing deep in their psyche, the potential & Dark Psychology19 for behaving in harmful and malevolent ways they rarely or never activate, ICT and cyberspace offers a direct connection and psychological route to the dark side. Just as ICT and cyberspace is incredibly pro-social and beneficial to humanity, these same technological advancements can lead humanity to diabolical and sinister endeavors.
The iPredator Bridge is a symbolic representation of the approach, route and initial crossing into the realm of the iPredator. In a rudimentary and abstract way, it is posited that cyberspace, ICT and all future technological advancements, related to information technology, is an extension of the mind and the instinctual drives of the collective brain to replicate itself outside a human organism. Related to this postulate are the theoretical tenets of Carl Jung (1875-1961) and his construct of the Collective Unconscious20.
“The collective unconscious – so far as we can say anything about it at all – appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact, the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious… We can therefore study the collective unconscious in two ways, either in mythology or in the analysis of the individual.” (Carl Jung – The Structure & Dynamics of the Psyche21)
iPredator: The Dark Side of Cyberspace
Given that humanity is at the beginning of the Information Age, the motivating factors that lead some people to cross over into engaging in asocial behaviors using ICT cannot be explained. The concept of iPredator and iPredator Bridge construct assumes that ICT has unknown effects upon the mind and influence some to engage in destructive and self-destructive patterns. The creation of ICT and cyberspace is equivalent to the philosophical and psychological societal awe that was created when an astronaut took his first step upon the moon. Just as Neil Armstrong (8/5/30 – 8/25/12) stepped into a new celestial territory, humanity is doing the same here on Earth. This new territory is the abstract and artificial electronic universe known as cyberspace.
Within this new region, and presently without explanation, many people enter cyberspace and access ICT with their instinctual drive for self-preservation22 remaining dormant. Conversely, there are other people who, either quickly or gradually, conclude that ICT and cyberspace offers an environment that allows the pursuit of maladaptive and psychopathological goals undeterred by punishment. It is within this process that the ICT user or groups of ICT users transcend into the world of iPredator. Once an iPredator, the various typologies begin their search for those they deem as vulnerable, easily accosted and not likely to mobilize the required forces leading to their apprehension and punishment.
Most iPredators seek to hide their identities, whereas others do not for reasons often rooted in the belief that their identity being known by the victim benefits them by increasing their popularity or solidifying peer acceptance. For a small segment of cyberbullies who meet criteria for iPredator, they relish in the knowledge that others will know they are the aggressor and feel their aggressive endeavors using ICT makes them more attractive to their peers. This example of cyberbullies is amongst other iPredator typologies that choose to not hide or fabricate their identity.
This writer disagrees with those who view ICT and the realm of cyberspace as merely technological tools used by criminal, psychopathological, narcissistic, deviant and lascivious people. Although this writer is unable to clinically verify his assertions, given ICT and the Internet is new to human civilization, he strongly subscribes to the notion that ICT and cyberspace have developed into a realm leading to an entirely new breed of criminal, deviant, abuser and aggressor never experienced before in the history of human civilization.
The “veil of anonymity” afforded to all assailants if they choose, their ability to develop counterfeit profiles, their technological knowledge base and the capacity to target victims they have concluded are easy targets are but a few facets that differentiate the iPredator from classic criminal, abuser and thief.
iPredator: Information Age Version of Classic Criminal & Deviant
Given this writer’s strong belief that there are neurochemical, neuropsychological23, perceptual and dissociative24 based changes occurring in all humans who access and interact with ICT and cyberspace, the compilation of all these factors leads to both a new breed of assailant and victim. iPredator Bridge is the connection between the dark aspects of the human mind, ICT, cyberspace and activation of direct or indirect harm towards others.
The victim or target of an iPredator may or may not have previously engaged the iPredator Bridge construct themselves, and for that matter, may not even know that their loved ones, peers, associates or new online contacts are posturing to become iPredators or actively engaging in iPredator attacks.
Clearly, there is a plethora of contributing factors influencing people to become iPredators. There are also a multitude of factors that influence some people to approach and cross the iPredator Bridge. And unfortunately, there are a variety of constituents that influence some to be unwilling to institute the necessary practices and safety measures to reduce their probability of becoming a target or victim. The harsh reality is that the wonderful abstract universe of cyberspace and the ICT used to enter cyberspace does not come with directions or blueprints on how to prevent being attacked, disparaged or harmed by iPredators.
Based on this writer’s research and extensive investigation leading to the creation of the iPredator construct, he, his colleagues and many contributors have compiled a list of warning signs that may suggest the person being queried is approaching the iPredator Bridge, in transit or has fully crossed to the realm of iPredator.
The list to follow has not been validated by clinical research, a governing body or academic institution. It has been compiled and published to be a point of reference to educate and assist anyone who is concerned that they, their children, business or community are in the presence of an iPredator or someone in transit to becoming an iPredator.