Understanding the adversary is a first step to countering cybersecurity threats. This unit introduces the field of cybersecurity by focusing on the mindsets, methods and motivations of the key actors: hackers. Hackers often tap into basic social norms and mores, such as people’s desire to be helpful and friendly, as well as seeing gaps in processes - and having a willingness to exploit them. Their motivations for doing so can be from diverse range of reasons, from simple curiosity and intellectual challenge to financial gain, to political causes, whether it’s state-sponsored attacks and intelligence gathering to “hacktivism.


Teaching periods
Start and end dates
Last self-enrolment date
Census date
Last withdraw without fail date
Results released date
Teaching Period 2
Start and end dates
Last self-enrolment date
Census date
Last withdraw without fail date
Results released date

Learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this unit will be able to:

  • Critically review different forms of hacking behaviour and explain the mindsets and the motivations behind hacking
  • Identify and differentiate the various tactics that hackers use in breaching communication networks and information system
  • Explain and measure the profit models and value chain behind hackers' activities
  • Critically evaluate standard business security practices from the viewpoint of a hacker
  • Recommend processes and practices to reduce the likelihood of data breaches

Teaching methods


Type Hours per week Number of weeks Total (number of hours)
Face to Face Contact (Phasing out)
3.00 12 weeks 36
Unspecified Learning Activities (Phasing out)
Independent Learning
9.50 12 weeks 114

Swinburne Online

Type Hours per week Number of weeks Total (number of hours)
Directed Online Learning and Independent Learning
12.50 12 weeks 150


Type Task Weighting ULO's
AssignmentIndividual 50 - 60% 1,2,3,4,5 
ProjectIndividual 40 - 50% 1,2,3,4,5 


  • Social history of hackers
  • Motivations of hackers: criminal, financial gain, state-sponsored, hacktivism, mischief (“script kiddies”), curiosity and notoriety
  • Types of attacks (packet injection, man in the middle, phishing, spear phishing, advanced persistent threats, candy drops etc.)
  • Social engineering and the human factors in security
  • Physical security and its relation to protecting digital assets (e.g. tailgating staff through security controlled doors)
  • The self in cyberspace – identity
  • How to source and hunt threat intelligence e.g. Unit 42

Study resources

Reading materials

A list of reading materials and/or required textbooks will be available in the Unit Outline on Canvas.