Cyber security insights into self-proclaimed virtual world hackers

by   Nicholas Patterson, et al.

Virtual worlds have become highly popular in recent years with reports of over a billion people accessing these environments and the virtual goods market growing to near 50 billion US dollars. An undesirable outcome to this popularity and market value is thriving criminal activity in these worlds. The most profitable cyber security problem in virtual worlds is named Virtual Property Theft. The aim of this study is to use an online survey to gain insight into how hackers (n=100) in these synthetic worlds conduct their criminal activity. This survey is the first to report an insight into the criminal mind of hackers (virtual thieves). Results showed a clear-cut profile of a virtual property thief, they appear to be mainly aged 20-24 years of age, live in the United States of America, while using virtual worlds for 5-7 hours a day. These and the other key results of this study will provide a pathway for designing an effective anti-theft framework capable of abolishing this cyber security issue.



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