Cybercrime and Cybercriminals

Cybercrime and Cybercriminals

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4162-3.ch001
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


The rising expansion and diversification in the cybercrime arena have become difficult obstacles in order both to understand the extent of embedded risks and to define efficient policies of prevention for corporations, institutions, and agencies. The present study represents a comprehensive review of the origin, typologies, and developments of cybercrime and hacker subculture. This chapter confronts the issues by describing and discussing different criteria of classification in the field and by providing a broad list of definitions and an analysis of the cybercrime practices. A conceptual taxonomy of cybercrime is described as well. Common categories include the digital device is the target to commit the crime, the digital device is used as a tool to perpetrate the felony, or a digital device is an incidental condition to the execution of a crime. The authors complete their study by analyzing lessons learned and future actions that can be undertaken to tackle cybercrime and harden cybersecurity at all levels.
Chapter Preview


From the Jargon file, a globally recognised lexicon of hacker slang. The following entry refers to the “Hacker Culture”:

The ‘hacker culture’ is actually a loosely networked collection of subcultures that is nevertheless conscious of some important shared experiences, shared roots, and shared values. It has its own myths, heroes, villains, folk epics, in-jokes, taboos, and dreams. Because hackers as a group are particularly creative people who define themselves partly by rejection of ‘normal’ values and working habits, it has unusually rich and conscious traditions for an intentional culture less than 50 years old.

The Hacking term has its roots at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), when it was coined by MIT students to attribute the development of novel techniques to identify computer shortcuts or clever pranks; the term was also popularized in the film WarGames (1983) –and the hacker subculture exploded (Britz, 2009).

In the late 1950s, computing and programming developments took place in universities where the term hacker was coined at MIT, Cornell and Harvard where they developed elegant solutions to existing problems in slow-operating mainframes (Levy, 1984). Pioneer hackers helped by speeding up the processes used in developing techniques by removing lines of code in existing programs. These skills and their hacking tasks were recognized as a sign of respect (Furnell, 2002).

The hacker conception moved into the 1960s from universities into military operations. Many programmers were angry because of the overall existence of military applications, despite their work was mostly funded by the USA military and federal government (Thomas, 2002).

In the 1970s a shift occurred with the phone systems hacking known as “phone pheaking”. This practice involved tampering with telephone systems and phone technology to make free calls to anyone worldwide by controlling telephone system switches (Landreth, 1984); these individuals were known as phreaks. Also during late seventies, the first computer Bulletin Board System (BBS) was created – allowing the online interaction and communication between hackers.

During the 1980s, the hacker ethic was challenged due to major technological inventions like personal computers and modems. The exploration of computer networks and online interaction outside university and business environments allowed the proliferation of online users and the participation of underground hackers (Furnell, 2002).

Hacker subculture became more divided when “The Hacker Manifesto” was published originally as “The Conscience of a Hacker” by a notorious member of the hacker group Legion of Doom called “The Mentor”. This created different beliefs within the hacker communities as was opposed to the Hacker’s Code of Ethics of Levy (1984):

  • Access to Computers - and anything which might teach you something about the way the world works - should be unlimited and total. Always yield to the Hands-On Imperative!

  • All information should be free.

  • Mistrust Authority - Promote Decentralization.

  • Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race, or position.

  • You can create art and beauty on a computer.

  • Computers can change your life for the better.

By mid-to-late 1980s, several malicious hacker attacks took place and became the focus of law enforcement agencies. High profile hacker attacks happened during the 1990s. The technology progress provided user friendly systems, access to the Internet and the World Wide Web (WWW).

By mid 1990s, new generations were attracted to hacking with the release of a new film “Hackers” – in 1995 (Holt, 2005). The movie highlights that a young boy (age 11) a.k.a. Dade “Zero Cool” Murphy crashed 1,507 systems in one day and caused a single day operations drop of the New York Stock Exchange. The movie presents how this hacker and his group were able to hack and crash several government systems without finding enough evidence to prosecute them. This film helped to reinforce the notion that hackers are criminals.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cybercriminals: Individuals or groups involved with all types of cybercrimes.

Hacker: Someone who is able the break the security of computer systems. The intention can go for enforcing penetration testing from the ethical hackers to launch powerful cyberattacks lead by black hat hackers.

Cybercrime: Technological crimes or crimes committed to complement traditional crimes for financial gain.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: