Literature review: Online crime
Saif Al Katheeri
Dr. Gina Gemmel
July, 15th 2019
Literature review: Online crime
Cybercrime has increased rapidly over the years, and wrangling debates are surrounding the issue. It has become part of everyday life. Different scholars have thoroughly examined the causes, prevalence, and potential solutions to cyber-crime. One of the most challenging issues for researchers is the increased penetration of the internet, increased use of smartphones and computers in a society with very naive users of online platforms. This is expected to lead to increased cybercrime cases. With the recent trends in online crime, most scholars in this field have dedicated their research to focus on the users of online platforms, the safety of personal information, and unauthorized privacy invasion. The review of literature from Academic sources will examine the prevalence of cybercrimes focusing on the soft targets of cyber-attack, unauthorized privacy invasion, characteristics of cybercrime victim, cybercrime trends globally and network intrusion facilitated through social engineering: which basically means using manipulation as an art figure to make a person do something or reveal confidential information. While all the sources reviewed agree that cybercrimes are a severe problem, they as well differ on the various ways to solve the problem.
For instance, some authors attribute the severity of cybercrimes to the inability of internet providers to protect their websites, while others claim that the personality of cybercrime victims often make them susceptible to attacks. In their article on Cybersecurity: Risks, Vulnerabilities, and Countermeasures to prevent Social Engineering Attacks, Conteh and Schmick (2016) explain that most soft targets for cyber-attack are as a result of various online platforms lacking the proper capacity to protect their IT infrastructure from hackers focusing on stealing personal details of users. Conteh and Schmick (2016) also attribute the increasing number of cyber-crime cases to social engineering. They depict that the attacks are aimed at making victims disclose private information. In contrast to these claims, other researchers attribute cybercrimes to the personal traits of internet users. For instance, Van de Weijer and Leukfeldt (2017) in their article The Big Five Personality Traits of Cybercrime Victims, discuss that the personal qualities of extraversion, sociability, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness can contribute to vulnerability to attacks. Therefore, it can be concluded that the severity of cybercrimes is due to the inability of service providers to protect their systems and also the personal traits of victims.
Looking at the works of most researchers, naivety has been identified as one of the factors that cyber attackers rely on to get their victims. In their article Individual Information Security, User Behavior and Cyber Victimization: an Empirical Study of Social Networking Users, Saridakis, et al. explain that traditional cyber-crimes relate so much to attacks done, targeting naïve users who have only fundamental skills in the use of IT infrastructure. The empirical analysis shows that there exists a connection between online abuse and user’s action and sensitivities of private details security on social networks, which forms the basis of the naivety of online users. This view is also clearly brought out in Marwick’s discussion, where he states that lack of experience, skills, and judgment, are the most fundamental cause for frequent cases of cyberbullying is naivety. In addition, Marwick also argues that women are the most common victims of certain gender centered violations, which range from consumer profiling to video voyeurism and revenge porn. Therefore, it can be concluded that naivety makes people susceptible to cyber attacks.
Privacy invasions are another form of today’s cybercrime activities. According to Marwick, privacy invasion cases are on the rise. Marwick elaborates more on unauthorized privacy invasion due to lack of solid personal security knowledge. She discusses one massive privacy breach which occurred in August 2014 with a vast number of celebrity nudes posted to the social site called 4Chan. This illustrates privacy breach due to lack of personal security knowledge (Marwick,1). Different methods are used to perpetrate privacy breach crimes including; revenge porn, which involves non-consensually sharing of intimate images belonging to another person and Reddit and Geek masculinity which includes downloads done by other users without consent. This is itself unauthorized, and the privacy of an individual is compromised. This is usually due to lack of a limit on the online free search and the prevalence of openly sexist annotation on the internet.
Similarly, Saridakis et al., 4, explains that unauthorized privacy invasion has increased due to the use of social media sites. Illegal privacy invasion is accomplished by clicking links on social media, which further redirect users on those sites to upload photos without personal consent. This technical ploy deceives the user to key in a username and password, which then make it easy for the attackers to gather information. Conteh & Schmick (2016) also agree with these views. This, therefore, points to more sophisticated strategies which have led to increased unauthorized privacy invasion.
Regardless of the increase in unauthorized privacy invasion, users have deployed adequate defenses to lower their vulnerability (Conteh & Schmick, 33). They explain that hackers are getting wittier and manipulative in carrying out social engineering attacks. They emphasize that attackers can obtain crucial details which can cause damage to the individual’s reputation with others employing the use of photoshop to achieve their intentions (Conteh &Schmick, 32). They attribute an increase in these scandals to lack of successful convictions and lack of resources to undertake the process. In a similar view, Van de weijer emphasizes that personality also contributes to unauthorized access to privacy (Van de Weijer et al., 4). They indicate that users with lower levels of self-discipline are at higher risk of becoming victims of certain types of cybercrime (Van de Weijer et al., 3). A meta-analysis on the same shows that self-discipline is the most common indicator of vulnerability to cybercrime.
On various characteristics of cybercrimes, various scholars express their take on this and agree that cybercrimes aim at either embarrassing or harassing its victims. According to Conteh and Schmick, cybercrime falls into multiple types like phishing, pretexting, tailgating, and baiting as vital strategies employed by attackers exploiting vulnerabilities of IT systems (Conteh &Schmich, 32). Some of the characteristics that they look at include; access to restricted areas, impersonation leading to unauthorized access and attempts to gain personal information such as names, addresses, and passwords (Conteh &Schmich, 32). Similarly, Marwick adds on the same stating that cyber-crime is intended to bring about harassment to women and something like revenge porn, is a contemporary issue that is both profoundly gendered and a gross violation of privacy (3). This allows a closer examination of how gender functions in a popular privacy discourse (Marwick, 3). Women are particularly susceptible to online harassment and sexual violence as a result of social Media’s networked properties, particularly women of color and queer women.
Van de Weijer et al. also examines the cause of increased cases of cyber-crime. Victimization of traditional crime is linked to conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness (Van de Weijer et al., 3). This is in line with the common types of cyber-crimes given by Conteh and Schmick. However, only extraversion and openness to experience were significantly and positively related to the victimization as well as both harsh and mild cyberbullying (Van de Weijer et al., 4). They describe the main characteristic of cyberbullying as the crimes aimed at information technology and committed through its use, especially hacking. They also explore whether victims of cyber-enabled crimes that is online intimidation, online consumer fraud, and identity theft differ from victims of cyber-dependent crimes (Van de Weijer et al., 3).
Similarly, Saridakis views the primary characteristic of cybercrime as social networks cybercrime victimization. He associates high usage of social media to be responsible for increasing the risk of online victimization (Saridakis et al., 4). This is based on the premise of RAT; it becomes easier for criminals to find potential victims on social networks.
Conteh and Schmick also touch on cybercrime trends globally stating that various factors that define most loopholes exploited by cyber criminals include; network guidance, education and training, technical procedures, and physical guidance (34). Lack of proper check into these issues is seen to increase cyber-attack incidences (Conteh & Schmich,34). Similarly, Marwick, states that women harassment is as a result of “widespread use of sexist language, sexual objectification, and aggressive performances of masculinity” (Marwick, 13). “Thus, when a photo leaks; it is justified from within the culture of normalized sexism and the dehumanization and devaluation of women” (Marwick, 13).
To make more comparison on the subject matter of global trends of cyber-crime, Van der weijer et al., emphasizes a study done among 572 young adults Facebook users (6). It was found that global trends on cyber-crimes are usually influenced by significant relationships between personality traits and online behavior such as frequency of internet use, number of Facebook friends and posting indiscrete content (Van de Weijer et al., 6). The global crime trends postulated by Van der are similar to the directions outlined by other scholars. Saridakis also denotes identical take on the rise of cybercrime. He discusses the factors that make cybercrime accessible in the current generation (Saridakis et al., 4). These include easy target, motivated offender, and absence of guardianship. This provides quite a different view of what Conteh and Schmick examine.
A network intrusion is facilitated through social engineering. Network intrusion and social engineering work hand in hand as long as cybercrimes are concerned. Conteh and Schmick emphasize that social engineering is critical in divulging confidential information and is successful in its attempt due to exploiting personality vulnerabilities (Conteh & Schmich, 33). Similarly, Marwick depicts that gender privacy is compromised by network intrusion. This is because; through the network, secrets data is hacked, thus facilitating exposure of nude (Marwick, 13). Making a comparison of the same, Van der Weijer, denotes that, network intrusion and various traits of personality complement each other. This is because networking brings about different attributes; may it be the stability of emotions, agreeableness, and conscientiousness (Van de Weijer et al.,6). Similarly, Saridakis postulates that social networking sites are discussed as significant points of initiating attacks on innocent users, further facilitating network intrusion.
As seen in the review of literature, each author identifies the problems that are brought about by cyber-crime. Several issues have also been covered, ranging from soft targets of cyber-attack, unauthorized privacy invasion, characteristics of cybercrime victims, cybercrime trends globally, and network intrusion facilitated through social engineering. Although no initiatives have been discussed on how to mitigate the cybercrime problems, further study may be done to uncover entirely new solutions unexamined here due to various research limitations.
Alice E. Marwick (2017); Scandal or sex crime? Gendered privacy and the celebrity nude photo leaks
George Saridakisa, Vladlena Bensona, Jean-Noel Ezingeardb, Hemamali Tennakoona (2015): Individual information security, user behavior and cyber victimisation: An empirical study of social networking users
Nabie Y. Conteh and Paul J. Schmick (2016); Cybersecurity: risks, vulnerabilities and countermeasures to prevent social engineering attacks
Steve G.A, Van de Weijer, and E.Rutgar Leukfeldt (2017); Big Five Personality Traits Of Cybercrime Victims; Article
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