Peeping into a Hacker's Mind: Can Criminological Theories Explain Hacking?

20 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2008 Last revised: 5 Apr 2015

See all articles by Raghav Sharma

Raghav Sharma

National Law University Jodhpur (NLUJ)

Date Written: July 12, 2007


Computer networks and interconnected information highways have amplified the opportunities for new kinds of deviant behaviour through a radical metamorphosis of our normative social structures, creation of moral ambiguities and providing a place for criminal countercultures to grow and flourish. Anti-hacking laws have proved ineffective due to their traditional approaches to crime containment. The paper is a modest attempt to explore the underlying motivations of hackers by deploying major psychology and social learning based criminological theories e.g. psychoanalysis, conditioning, differential association and moral development. The theoretical analysis demonstrates how the rewards in form of fame or money through hacking greatly outweigh the deterrence produced by law. Such an endeavour is essential to identify the loopholes of traditional penal law approach, especially to rationalize penalties by differential targeting of hacker classes and discover alternative strategies to contain the growing menace of hacking e.g. administration of computer ethics education at early stages of life.

Keywords: Hacking, Psychology, Freud, Sutherland, Cyber, Criminology, Social Learning, Hacktivist

Suggested Citation

Sharma, Raghav, Peeping into a Hacker's Mind: Can Criminological Theories Explain Hacking? (July 12, 2007). Available at SSRN: or

Raghav Sharma (Contact Author)

National Law University Jodhpur (NLUJ) ( email )

NH-65, Nagour Road
Kamala Nehru Nagar, Jodhpur
Mandore, Jodhpur, Rajasthan 34230

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