The Evolution of Cyberattack Motives

Sirapat Boonkrong, Kaewrattana Prompunjai, Suwitchayagon Watcharawongbodee, Supisara Chueachantuek


A cyberattack can be defined as an action aiming to cause damages and losses to computer networks, information systems, and even personal devices and data. Many professionals and organizations have put a lot of effort and resources into preventing cyberattacks based on how they occur, their targets, and what damages they can cause. However, one of the aspects that are often overlooked and one of the reasons that cyberattacks are successfully carried out is the fact that the nature of attackers' motivations is not fully understood. Therefore, this research examines the main reasons for cyberattacks to be carried out by adversaries and the motives behind cyberattacks. Specifically, we studied over 7,700 cyber records and events between 2006 and 2018, including data breaches, privacy violations, and cyber incidents, to learn how attack motives have evolved over the years. The analyses of the data were mainly carried out using descriptive analysis. Our study found that the early cyberattacks were mainly financially motivated. However, in the later years, the cyberattack motives included espionage, ideology, and skill and knowledge testing. This implies that the motives behind cyberattacks became more varied in terms of types, proportions, and correlations between them. It is hoped and expected that the results of the analyses will be helpful to various stakeholders in such a way that they will better understand the reasons and motivations for cyberattacks.


Attack motive; cyberattack; cybersecurity; evolution.

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