Chair: Edward Kleemans
Cybercrime: cybercriminals and cybercriminal networks
Author: Kruisbergen Edwin, Research and Documentation Centre, Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice
Edward Kleemans, VU University Amsterdam
Rutger Leukfeldt, NSCR (Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement), The Hague University of Applied Sciences
Title: Organised (Cyber)Crime: About Old and New Bottlenecks, Bitcoins and Cash
Using a unique dataset of 30 large scale police investigations, we analyzed how organized crime groups use IT and what consequences the use of IT has for the operations and dynamics of criminal networks. How does the use of IT affect the modus operandi of organized crime groups, more specifically the logistic and financial dimension of their criminal operations? Does IT help offenders solve specific bottlenecks in their modus operandi and/or does it introduce new bottlenecks? The 30 analysed criminal investigations are part of the Dutch Organized Crime Monitor, an ongoing research project into the nature of organized crime in the Netherlands. One of the most striking findings of the most recent analyses is the fact that cash is still king – even for online drug dealers who get paid in digital currencies.
Keywords: Cybercrime, organised crime, criminal network
Author: McGuire Mike, University of Surrey
Title: The Web of Profit: Platform Criminality and the Cybercrime Economy
Most contemporary cybercrime research has tended to focus upon its ‘front end’ problems – for example classifying offence-types, estimating their volume, identifying how malware enables criminal opportunity or profiling cybercriminal perpetrators and their victims. Far less attention has been paid to the outputs of cybercrime – in particular the financial motivations of those who engage in criminal misuse of ICT. In this paper I present some findings from a 10 month research project which aimed to understand the methods and modes of revenue generation in the cybercrime world. I examine three associated strands of this process; how revenues are generated and which cybercriminal activities count amongst the most lucrative; second, the ways in which revenues are laundered and third, some of the more obvious patterns of revenue disposal/spending amongst cybercriminals. What emerges is a complex system of financial flows which drive contemporary cybercrime. And rather than the overused metaphor of ‘cybercrime as a business’, this system is best thought of in terms of new kind of criminal economy, one which both mirrors its legitimate counterpart as well as becoming inextricably intertwined and interdependent with it. ‘Platform criminality’ which echoes the digital platforms some now argue characterise late capitalism is one of the more striking outcomes of this economy.
Keywords: cybercrime, criminal economy
Author: Romagna Marco, Leiden University, The Hague University of Applied Sciences
Title: The Social-Psychological Processes Behind the Hacktivist’S Mind: Why and How They Became Hacktivists
Hacktivism is a phenomenon which originated from the hacker subculture of the late 1980s, combining socio-political motivations typical of traditional activism, with hacker ideology and hacking techniques. Hacktivists are the main actors in hacktivism and are celebrated (by few) as new cyber rebels, or (by many) as simple criminals/script kiddies who hack for their own pleasure and challenge, rather than for a socio-political reason. This presentation will show the results of 15 in-depth interviews with hacktivists who have been active in the international field in the last 2 years. The interviewees made use of diverse forms of hacking to support their causes, which seemed to be political in their nature and usually target-oriented. The analysis and the results of the interviews are explained following the theoretical framework elaborated by van Stekelenburg and Klandermans in relation to the role of fundamental social psychological processes (social identity, social cognition, emotions and motivation) in this case employed in the context of hacktivism, with particular attention to the cyber dimension. The socio-psychological process seems to be confirmed by the interviews, particularly when looking at the steps taken by hackers and activists to become hacktivists, stressing the importance of the inner motivations, the social identity and the feeling of belonging to a group.
Keywords: cybercrime, hacktivism, criminal network, hacking, offender interview
Author: Van der Wagen Wytske, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Title: How Organized Is ‘Organized Cybercrime’: a Theoretical and Empirical Exploration of Cybercriminal (Actor-)Networks
Botnets, banking malware, carding and various other high tech crimes are big business. Criminological knowledge on how these crimes are organized is essential for both a thorough understanding of their structure and how to tackle them. For instance, are we dealing with flexible criminal networks or more businesslike groups? Which actors are most crucial in sustaining the network? Could the latter also be technical actors? This explorative research aims to shed light on these questions by exploring the composition of criminal networks engaged in cybercrime. In this context, it makes use of the actor-network theory (ANT), an approach that adopts a more hybrid view of networks by drawing more explicit attention to the role of technical entities. For this research, a unique dataset has been analyzed, involving private chat conversations between (mainly) Russian speaking actors who were involved in various cybercrime related activities. The findings reveal that the cybercriminal underground resembles a complex chain of various interdependent criminal actors and activities rather than fixed groups. Businesslike and flexible cooperative network structures exist side by side. Technological nodes can take an important position in the organizational structure of these networks and do not merely have a functional role. The study concludes that viewing cybercriminal networks as ‘actor-networks’ might offer new insights in both the composition of these networks and how to disrupt them.
Keywords: Cybercrime, organised crime, criminal networks, actor-network theory