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What is Cybercrime and How to Deter It Research Paper

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What is Cybercrime?

Definition of Cybercrime

Cybercrime is any criminal activity that is conducted using computers or the Internet. As today’s digital natives have the most experience with computers, cybercriminals tend to be of the Millennial generation—i.e., born after 1980. They are young, digitally sophisticated, and able to operate with a degree of professionalism and discipline that allows them to hide their crimes beneath legitimate-looking facades. Spearphishing is one example of a type of cybercrime used by professional criminals to lure victims into traps or sites that have the appearance of legitimacy.

Cybercrime is committed by people who know computer code, understand computer systems and networks, know how to navigate databases, access data storage, get past firewalls, exploit cloud computing services, control the Internet of Things and more. They

How Cybercrime Has Evolved over Time

Computers and the rise of the Internet ushered in the era of cybercrime. IBM’s first computer arrived in the 1950s, but it was an enormous machine—and cybercrime did not really become a possibility until the personal computer began to hit the market in the 1970s (Computer Hope, 2019). As businesses and organizations began to more operations online, individuals began to see an opportunity to exploit weak supports to gain access over company data, individual personal information, or access to financial accounts. Cybercrime has grown into a highly sophisticate and complex industry that is constantly pushing the boundaries and requiring security experts to play catch-up all the while.

Cybercrime falls under the category of white collar crime. Cybercrime in the early days focused on exploiting punch cards and machines, but gradually as the technology developed cybercrime began to focus on committing fraud in a variety of forms, identity theft, and hacking (Schjølberg, 2017). Today, cybercriminals can take control of radar systems, hijack ships, and steal data. Common cyber crime often takes the form of enterprise crime, in which illegal activities are united under a legitimate business front, allowing the crime to have a corporate status even though it is engaged in criminal activity. Rather than trying to get around regulations and rules, the criminal embraces them and uses the veneer of legitimacy to hide behind. Enterprise crime is also sometimes known as organized crime. The Mafia is such an organization and it may have a legitimate business front but behind the scenes it is moving drugs or guns, and during the days of Prohibition it was moving alcohol. Enterprise crime can hide behind restaurants, charitable organizations, art galleries and so on. One of the most common forms of enterprise crime, however, is cybercrime.

The specific facets of the modern technology/computer revolution which make cybercrime possible include the ability to hide one’s digital footprints and the relatively new field of digital forensics (Taylor, Fritsch, Liederbach, Saylor & Tafoya, 2019).).

Computers allow for a virtual anonymity to be obtained and allow criminals to commit crimes from virtually anywhere in the world thanks to the Internet. They do not even have to be in the same country but can send viruses or ransomware to other networks and hold them hostage. Cybercrime does not have to be of a physical nature; it can be all digitally related. So instead of robbing a bank of its physical cash, hackers can hack into systems and take digital currency.

Because so much of the world has become digitalized, cybercriminals now have to learn how to hack systems and they may not be as good at hiding their digital footprints as they believe. So they can leave tracks behind that can be found. They may also immediately trigger red flags in systems that have been designed to identify criminal activity or suspicious behavior. Many organizations are monitoring what their employees are doing on their networks so that they can put a stop to white collar crime, such as money laundering or extortion or theft.

Thus, on the one hand technology makes it easier for cybercrime to occur these days, but on the other hand it also makes it harder for criminals to get away with it. Criminals have to be very tech savvy and must know the latest technology in order to get away with white collar crime. Governments and businesses are now outsourcing security to third parties who specialize in providing digital security, and so white collar…

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…one. Proving that a particular person was involved in a cybercrime involves obtaining detailed information from the suspect’s computer or from the victim’s computer or network. Yet, attackers can often mask their footprints and make it appear as though the crime was conducted by another person or country.

State, Federal and International Laws Related to Cybercrime

The federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is the main law that allows for the prosecution of cybercrime. It prohibits unauthorized access to a computer or security information. The Electronic Communications Protection Act is another federal law that along with the Stored Communications Act makes it a criminal offense to access information with authorization. Hacking, phishing and denial of service attacks are all prosecuted under these laws. Most states have taken steps to pass cybercrime bills and the majority of them already have laws on the books regarding cybercrime. International laws regarding human rights typically are applied in cybercrime cases (Taylor et al., 2019).

How to Deter and Prevent Cybercrime

One of the best ways to prevent cybercrime is to educate the end user. The vast majority of cybercrimes come from phishing scams and social engineering, both of which prey on the end user. End users should know better than to click on suspicious links or give away passwords—but they do not. This is partly a training problem and partly a human nature problem. Most workers in firms do not spend their time thinking that there are hackers looking to find ways to illegally access the company’s information or networks—but they need to do so and companies need to pay more attention to this matter because the end user is the most vulnerable part of a security system for an organization. For that reason, organizations need to invest in training so that they can reduce the risk of having their networks penetrated via an end user failing to exercise caution.

Collaboration is also required between governments and private organizations to make sure that penetration is not possible in industries that the nation depends upon. Cybercrime can be small and it can be quite large—such as an attack on the nation’s infrastructure. At that…

Sample Source(s) Used


Computer Hope. (2019). When was the first computer invented? Retrieved from

Crane, C. (2019). 33 alarming cybercrime statistics you should know in 2019. Retrieved from

Schjølberg, Stein. (2017). The History of Cybercrime (1976-2016). Books on Demand.

Statista. (2020). Global digital population. Retrieved from

Taylor, R. W., Fritsch, E. J., Liederbach, J., Saylor, M. R., & Tafoya, W. L. (2019). Cyber crime and cyber terrorism. NY, NY: Pearson.

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