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Researchers Uncover The Reason Behind Cybercrimes


There is no doubt that the cases of cybercrimes are increasing in number as years go by. In The 2012 Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR) published by Verizon, there were 855 incidents of corporate data theft and around 174 million records were affected by the hacking events.

The figures do not even include personal hacking incidents. In the recent data of Cyber Crime Watch, approximately 73% Americans fell victim to cybercrime.

Experts have successfully accounted the figures. Then, analysts have explained how to prevent hackers from victimizing people. However, what seems to be lacking in the reports generated by people studying the phenomenon is the reason behind cybercrimes. They fail to discuss entirely why people do it and the human element of the crime.

In an attempt to provide answer to the underlying question regarding the reason behind cybercrimes, Dr. Michael Cukier and Dr. David Maimon partnered together to investigate the driving factors of hackers and the profile of cybercrime victims.

The research involved looking at the behavior of hackers and victims. The experts studied the online routines of victims that rendered them very vulnerable to hacking. Next, the answers to the basic questions surrounding criminal behavior were explored. The methods they employed in the search for answers include putting together the principles of criminology, sociology and engineering methods.

According to Cukier, the problem is human in nature. In his statement, he claimed that we shouldn’t be needing passwords if it weren’t for the prying eyes of other people. Thus, he arrived at a realization that there is a massive human element to the phenomenon.

The main driving factor behind hacking is the money behind the information that is fished out from personal or corporate data. It should be noted that every survey conducted by huge corporations is the same with this realization.

Going back to the data of Verizon, phishing financial information from credit cards, transaction usernames and passwords, bank accounts and prying over trade secrets remain all time high. This is because all of these elements can all translate to money if used properly by the hacker.

After the identification of the primary motivation of cybercriminals, Cukier and Maimon found out that the time of the cyber attack is usually during the day because this is usually the time (around 9AM to 5PM) when a huge number of users are hooked up on the Internet. Hackers, no matter where they are in the globe, synchronize their attacks based on the studied online activities of their target said the researchers.

Lastly, the number of foreign network users, such as foreign students, is correlated with the attacks. They observed the relation of hacking incidents in their school involving these users. They discovered that the hacking originates from the countries of the foreign users.

Maimon concluded the research by saying that network users mainly account to the observed network attacks. Therefore, future online security solutions should be developed based on the human factor of cybercrime.

About the Researchers

Cukier is a known personality in Maryland’s academe. He is an associate professor of reliability engineering at A. James Clark School of Engineering, associate director for education at the Maryland Cybersecurity Center and director of the Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES). On the other hand, Maimon is an expert in the subject of cybercrime, criminological theory and other criminology-related courses. He is an assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Maryland.

Sources: University of Maryland Division of Research and Verizon

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