The Social Network Structure of a Computer Hacker Community

The Social Network Structure of a Computer Hacker Community

Xubin Cao (Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, China) and Yong Lu (Pennsylvania State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-200-0.ch012
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Computer hackers, both individually and as a group, have been identified as a primary threat to computer systems, users, and organizations. Although hacker groups are complex socio-technical systems, much extant research on hackers is conducted from a technical perspective and at an individual level of analysis. This research proposes a research model composed of five dimensions and their relations in order to study hacker’s social organization in the whole socio-technical context. Based on this model, the researcher applies network analysis methods to disclose the structure and patterns of a significant and complex hacker group, Shadowcrew. Network analysis tools are applied for data processing and data analysis. Three network measures: degree centrality, cognitive demand, and eigenvector centrality, are utilized to determine the critical leaders. Out-degree centrality is employed to analyze the relations among the five dimensions in the research model.
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Social Organization Of Hackers

Best and Luckenbill (1980) define social organization as the patterns of relationships among people and social organization as a network of social relations. The focus of social organization study is “a group or a pattern of social interaction, rather than the individual or the society” (Best and Luckenbill, 1994, p. 4). Therefore, the social organization of deviants refers to “the patterns of relationships among deviant actors involved in the pursuit of deviance” (p. 11). Studies of the social organization of deviants inform our understanding of the social aspects of them. Most deviants have relationships with one another and form associations. Thus, the social organization perspective allows researchers to consider how these relationships form, persist, and operate (Best and Luckenbill, 1994).

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