The Internet and its Opportunities for Cybercrime
TRANSNATIONAL CRIMINOLOGY MANUAL, M. Herzog-Evans, ed., Vol. 1, pp. 735-754, Nijmegen: WLP, 2010
21 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2011 Last revised: 11 Mar 2014
Date Written: December 1, 2010
The Internet deserves special attention in criminology as well as criminal law and policy, because of several characteristics: it is global, instantaneous, intrinsically transborder, digital, and enables automated information processing. Because of these characteristics, the Internet provides special opportunities to commit cybercrimes: crimes in which computer networks are the target or a substantial tool. This chapter provides a concise review of literature that has investigated how and why the Internet provides special opportunities to commit crime, and what this implies for the governance of (cyber)crime. It sketches some typologies of cybercrime, and lists twelve risk factors of the Internet that in combination provide a unique opportunity structure for crime. Next, the chapter discusses what little is known of cybercriminals, organised cybercrime, and cybervictims, and briefly discusses the challenges and limitations of law enforcement and other countermeasures. Although empirical research on cybercrime is scarce, the theoretical insights and hypotheses advanced in the literature warrant the conclusion that the Internet is transforming crime. It is suggested that cybercrime is becoming organised, large-scale, diversified with increasing division of labour, and is expected to develop increasing ties with offline organised crime. Moreover, offline and online victimisation seem to show significant overlap for some crimes. Now that Internet use has become a routine activity in everyday life, criminology as well as criminal law and policy should also incorporate the Internet and cybercrime in their own routine activities, while paying attention to the peculiarities and complexities of the unique phenomenon that is the Internet.
Keywords: Internet, cybercrime, criminology, risks, opportunity structure
JEL Classification: K14, K42, O33, O38
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation