Exploring Deviant Hacker Networks (DHN) On Social Media Platforms

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Al-khateeb, S., Conlan, K. J., Agarwal, N., Baggili, I., & Breitinger, F. (2016). Exploring Deviant Hacker Networks (DHN) On Social Media Platforms. Journal of Digital Forensics, Security and Law, 11(2), 7 - 20.

Publication type

Article in Scientific Journal


Online Social Networks (OSNs) have grown exponentially over the past decade. The initial use of social media for benign purposes (e.g., to socialize with friends, browse pictures and photographs, and communicate with family members overseas) has now transitioned to include malicious activities (e.g., cybercrime, cyberterrorism, and cyberwarfare). These nefarious uses of OSNs poses a significant threat to society, and thus requires research attention. In this exploratory work, we study activities of one deviant groups: hacker groups on social media, which we term Deviant Hacker Networks (DHN). We investigated the connection between different DHNs on Twitter: how they are connected, identified the powerful nodes, which nodes sourced information, and which nodes act as "bridges" between different network components. From this, we were able to identify and articulate specific examples of DHNs communicating with each other, with the goal of committing some form of deviant act online. In our work, we also attempted to bridge the gap between the empirical study of OSNs and cyber forensics, as the growth of OSNs is now bringing these two domains together, due to OSNs continuously generating vast amounts of evidentiary data.


Organizational Units

  • Institute of Information Systems
  • Hilti Chair for Data and Application Security