Influence of Motivational, Social, and Environmental Factors on the Learning of Hackers

동기적, 사회적, 그리고 환경적 요인이 해커의 기술 습득에 미치는 영향

  • Jang, Jaeyoung (Graduate School of Information, Yonsei University) ;
  • Kim, Beomsoo (Barun ICT Research Center, Graduate School of Information, Yonsei University)
  • 장재영 (연세대학교 정보대학원) ;
  • 김범수 (연세대학교 정보대학원, 바른ICT연구소)
  • Received : 2015.11.23
  • Accepted : 2016.01.27
  • Published : 2016.03.31


Hacking has raised many critical issues in the modern world, particularly because the size and cost of the damages caused by this disruptive activity have steadily increased. Accordingly, many significant studies have been conducted by behavioral scientists to understand hackers and their practices. Nonetheless, only qualitative methods, such as interviews, meta-studies, and media studies, have been employed in such studies because of hacker sampling limitations. Existing studies have determined that intrinsic motivation was the dominant factor influencing hackers, and that their techniques were mainly acquired from online hacking communities. However, such results have yet to be causally proven. This study attempted to identify the causal factors influencing the motivational and environmental factors encouraging hackers to learn hacking skills. To this end, hacker community members using the theory of planned behavior were observed to identify the causal factors of their learning of hacking skills. We selected a group of students who were developing their hacking skills. The survey was conducted over a two-week period in May 2015 with a total of 227 students as respondents. After list-wise deletion, 215 of the responses were deemed usable (94.7 percent). In summary, the hackers were aware that hacking skills are considered socially unethical, and their attitudes toward the learning of hacking skills were affected by both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. In addition, the characteristics of the online hacking community affected their perceived behavioral control. This study introduced new concepts in the process of conducting a causal relationship analysis on a hacker sample. Moreover, this research expanded the discussion on the causal direction of subjective norms in unethical research, and empirically confirmed that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations affect the learning of hacking skills. This study also made a practical contribution by raising the educational and policy response issues for ethical hackers and demonstrating the necessity to intensify the punishment for hacking.