School of Computing

Nov 15, 2019
11:00 - 12:00
You are such a noob: Values, social identity and group dynamics in online hacking forums
School of Computing - Security Group Seminar
Speaker: Dr John McAlaney, Bournemouth University


Research into the characteristics into individuals who become involved in hacking is limited, in part because of the perceived challenges of conducting work in this area. However, as cybersecurity challenges grow, and the cybersecurity jobs gap deepens, there is a need to overcome these barriers. By doing so new avenues for improving prevention and mitigation of cyberattacks can be identified, including a better understanding of what determines whether an individual pursues a legitimate career in cybersecurity or becomes involved in cybercriminal activities. As part of a larger project an analysis was conducted on the conversations held within a range of the most popular online hacking forums. The aim of this was to recreate the pathways that an individual may encounter when they first begin exploring their interest in computers and hacking. We examined the social psychological factors evident that influence how individuals decide what is acceptable behaviour; along with the values, hierarchies and social validation processes that exist within these online hacking communities. In this talk we will discuss the complex and at times contradictory attitudes held within online hacking communities, and the value that individuals gain from being part of these groups.


Dr John McAlaney is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Bournemouth University. His research focuses on how and why people become involved in potentially risky behaviours, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, gambling, and the spread of misinformation. As part of this he seeks to uncover the often under-appreciated but powerful influence that social psychological factors and the need to belong have on individual behaviour.


Cornwallis South West,
University of Kent,
United Kingdom


Open to everyone, especially those interested in cyber security research,


Contact: Jason R.C. Nurse

School of Computing, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

Enquiries: +44 (0)1227 824180 or contact us.

Last Updated: 14/08/2015