A Routine Activity Theory-Based Framework for Combating Cybercrime

A Routine Activity Theory-Based Framework for Combating Cybercrime

Dillon Glasser (The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, USA) and Aakash Taneja (The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0808-3.ch004
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Abstract

Since the government began tackling the problems of cybercrime, many laws have been enacted. A lack of a comprehensive definition and taxonomy of cybercrime makes it difficult to accurately identify report and monitor cybercrime trends. There is not just a lack of international agreement on what cybercrime is; there are different laws in every state within the United States, reflecting the inconsistency of dealing with cybercrime. There is also concern that many times lawyers and information technology professions are unable to understand each other well. The deficiency of cyber laws is an obvious problem and development of effective laws is emerging as an important issue to deal with cybercrime. This research uses the routine activity theory to develop a unified framework by including the motivation of the offender to use a computer as a tool/target, suitability of the target, and the presence (or absence) of guardian. It could help states that want to update their existing laws and cover areas that were previously uncovered.
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Introduction

Originally the Internet was considered the Wild West, but legislators and law enforcement have made significant strides in tackling cybercrime. However, cybercrime has changed in recent years due to the growth of new phenomena in internet environments, such as peer to peer networks, social networks, organized cybercrime groups, and powerful new “smart” viruses (Berg, 2007). Cybercrime has “historically referred to crimes happening specifically over networks, especially the Internet, but that term has gradually become a general synonym for computer crime.” (Alkaabi, 2011). Cybercrime is different from other crimes because of the way it changes rapidly along with the technology that it uses or abuses.

Cybercriminals today are becoming more sophisticated and organized. They are now using botnets to accomplish crimes such as spamming and denial of service attacks. Technology and cybercrime are moving targets and there should be concern that the slow nature of our government may not be keeping pace. It is therefore not a surprise that old laws are being applied to new age crime. For example, Indiana has no laws pertaining to fraud or theft using a computer. Unfortunately, Indiana is not the only state that is lacking in cyber laws. It has been hard in the past to come to an agreement on what exactly constitutes cybercrime. As lack of a comprehensive definition and taxonomy of cybercrime makes it difficult to accurately identify report and monitor cybercrime trends. The deficiency of cyber laws is an obvious problem and development of effective laws is emerging as an important issue to deal with and combat cybercrime.

According to the routine activity theory, three specific criteria must exist for a crime to take place. There must be a motivated offender, a suitable target, and the absence of a capable guardian. The objective of this research is to use routine activity theory by including the suitability of target and motivation behind cybercrime for creating a unified framework which can be used to develop capable guardians (appropriate laws and policies) to effectively coordinate cybercrime regulation and legislation.

The rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2 of the paper describes the background in the areas of cybercrime, federal and state laws related to cybercrime. Section 3 discusses the routine activity theory followed by the unified framework in section 4. Lastly, we present our conclusions and the work ahead.

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