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As the computer becomes more ubiquitous throughout society, the security of networks and information technologies is a growing concern. Recent research has found hackers making use of social media platforms to form communities where sharing of knowledge and tools that enable cybercriminal activity is common. However, past studies often report only generalized community behaviors and do not scrutinize individual members; in particular, current research has yet to explore the mechanisms in which some hackers become key actors within their communities. Here we explore two major hacker communities from the United States and China in order to identify potential cues for determining key actors. The relationships between various hacker posting behaviors and reputation are observed through the use of ordinary least squares regression. Results suggest that the hackers who contribute to the cognitive advance of their community are generally considered the most reputable and trustworthy among their peers. Conversely, the tenure of hackers and their discussion quality were not significantly correlated with reputation. Results are consistent across both forums, indicating the presence of a common hacker culture that spans multiple geopolitical regions.
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