The Changing Landscape of Cybercrime

In the last two decades, we have witnessed the rapid growth of the Internet, mobile technology and the correspondingly rapid growth of online crimes,
or cybercrimes. With this growth, there has been a spike in the rate of cybercrimes committed over the Internet. This has resulted into some people condemning the Internet and partner technologies as responsible for creating new
crimes and the root causes of these crimes. However, there is hardly any new
crime resulting from these new technologies. What has changed, as a result of
these new technologies, is the enabling environment. Technology is helping
in the initiation and propagation of most known crimes. As we get rapid
changes in technological advances, we are correspondingly witnessing waves
of cybercrimes evolving. Figure 1.1 shows the changing nature of the cybercrime landscape since 1980.
The period before 1980 was an experimental period. Then, the Internet
was new and required sophisticated and specialized knowledge that very few
people back then had. There was very little valuable information and data stored
in online databases as there is today, and there were no free online hacking tools
available. If one wanted to hack, one had to develop the tools to do the job—
a daunting task that required expertise. The easiest way to do it was to join hack –
ing groups. Ganglike groups like the Legions of Doom, the Chaos Computer Club, NuPrometheus League, and the Atlanta Three were formed. Most of
these groups were led by notorious individuals like Kevin Mitnick (“The Condor”), Ian Murphy (“Captain Zap”), and Patrick K. Kroupa (“Lord Digital”).
At the tail end of the 1980s, computers had become smaller. The personal
computer (PC) had been introduced and was becoming very successful. Businesses were buying these computers at a rapid pace. Schools of varying standards were opening up and filling with students interested in becoming
computer programmers. More computers started getting into the hands of
young people through their schools, libraries, and homes as it was becoming
more and more possible for affluent families to afford a home PC. Curious
young people got involved with the new tools in large numbers. As their numbers rose, so did cybercrimes.

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