Archive for the ‘Cybercrime’ tag

Archaeology, crime, and the flow of information.   no comments

Posted at 2:47 pm in Criminology


Whether it be from property developers, civil war and conflict, treasure hunters and local enthusiasts, or just “bad archaeology”, archaeologists and heritage professionals have long struggled with the question of how to ensure the protection of sites, monuments and antiquities for future generations. Archaeological method and “preservation by record” were historically born out of situations where archaeology can not be conserved and within a desire to uphold one of the main principles of stewardship: to create a lasting archive. As archaeology is (very generally speaking) a destructive process that can not be repeated, an archive of information regarding the context and provenance of archaeological sites and finds is created to allow future generations to ask questions about past peoples.

Recent years have presented numerous ethical challenges to archaeologists and and other stewards of the past, particularly where crime and illicit antiquities are concerned. Social media and web technologies in general have provided, in some cases, real-time windows into the rate of the destruction of heritage sites within areas of war and conflict. Evidence from platforms such as Google Earth, Twitter, and YouTube have all been used by world heritage stewards to plead for the protection of both archaeological sites and “moveable heritage”. Ever-evolving networks of stakeholders in the illegal antiquity trade have also been identified and linked to looted sites in areas where some have hypothesized that the sale of antiquities is actually funding an on-going arms trade in regions consumed by civil war.

Although a case could be made for investigating the nature of archaeology and crime from the angle of many different disciplines (philosophy, ethics, economics, law, psychology, to name a few), criminology and journalism were specifically chosen to offer insight into the role of the Web as a facilitator in the flow of information. Both disciplines are concerned with information flow and resource discovery – for example, in journalism the flow of information between (verifiable) sources of information through to dissemination to the public, and in cybercrime the important information exchange that drives networks of crime (both physical and virtual).

Focusing on the nature of information exchange, what would criminology and journalism contribute to the following topics?

  • Social media and the dissemination of heritage destruction. What are the ethical issues surrounding the use of social media sources in documenting heritage destruction? Can/should social media sources (sometimes created for other purposes) be used as documentation to further research or conservation aims within archaeology?
  • The international business of selling illicit antiquities – from looters to dealers – what role does the Web play in facilitating these networks of crime? What methods for investigating cybercrime could be applied to the illicit antiquities trade to better understand the issues surrounding provenance?
  • Does the “open agenda” and the open data movement specifically (e.g. online gazetteers of archaeological sites, open grey literature reports with site locations, etc.), create a virtual treasure map and subsequently increase the likelihood of looting at archaeological sites?

Some aspects of each discipline which I believe to be relevant to the study of each (as well as the chosen topic):

Criminology and Cybercrime

  • What is crime? (“The problem of where.“/”The problem of who.“)
  • Policy and law
  • Positivism and the origins of criminal activity.
  • Digital Forensics


  • What is Journalism?
  • Who are Journalists?
  • Ethics and Digital Media Ethics
  • Anonymity, Privacy and Source
  • Bias and Conflicts of Interest

Some Potential Sources


Burke, R.H., 2005. An Introduction to Criminological Theory: Second Edition. Willan Publishing.

Walklate, S., 2007. Criminology: The Basics. 1st ed, The Basics. New York: Taylor & Francis.

Yar, M., 2013. Cybercrime and Society. 2nd ed., London: SAGE.


Ess, C., 2009. Digital Media Ethics. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Frost, C., 2011. Journalism Ethics and Regulation. 3rd ed., Longman.

Harcup, T., 2009. Journalism: Principles and Practice. 2nd ed., SAGE.

Written by Jessica Ogden on October 14th, 2013

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Researching Distributed Currencies   no comments

Posted at 2:03 pm in Criminology,Economics

Researching Distributed Currencies.

Over the course of my time here studying Web Science, I would like to do some in depth research into distributed currencies. A distributed currency is a form of money with no centralized processor or controlling authority. At the moment there are only a handful of distributed currencies in existence, and the majority of them stem from Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a “totally” anonymous and distributed online currency. It’s similar to PayPal in that you can use it to buy things online and send/receive currency quickly and conveniently.

PayPal is the opposite of a distributed currency, it’s centralized. PayPal handle all the processing of transactions, and they are also the authority for all transactions and for this service they charge a small fee on each transaction (varying from 2% – 8% of a transaction + a fixed 20p.) If PayPal doesn’t like a transaction, it will slow it, stop it or outright take your money away (googling PayPal took my money returns over 6million results.)

A distributed currency is not centralized. The transaction processing is handled by anybody who chooses to use the currency which normally involves running some client software. Because it’s running on anybodies computer, the currency must be designed in a secure way that doesn’t allow individual clients to tamper with or reverse transactions. The implications of this are a totally unregulated currency where nobody can decide what is right or wrong.

The pro’s of this are that people can make transactions for anything they want, without the worry of their account being frozen or their transaction being blocked or slowed or outright refused by a regulatory authority like PayPal. There is no single point of failure (or corruption.) Also, there is no mandatory fee’s to use these currencies or make transactions. The open distributed nature utilizes the internet in the way it was intended. It could be argued that centralized services governed by one authority undermine the entire point of have the internet (a distributed network) in the first place.

Bitcoin is totally anonymous also. If you want to receive money, you give someone a wallet address. You can have as many wallet addresses as you want which has the end result of it being impossible to link transactions to people. However, combine anonymity, money, and no regulation or authority and sure enough, you get criminals.

Bitcoin received a lot of publicity after the launch of a website called silkroad which was described as “the Amazon marketplace of drugs” which allowed users to by all sorts of illegal items including drugs and weapons – all paid for by the anonymous distributed currency Bitcoin. As well as Silk Road for weapons and drugs, there have also been suggestions that Bitcoin is used to trade in other illicit things such as hiring bot nets, hitmen, slaves, prostitutes and more.

Because there are supposedly a large amount of criminals using Bitcoin, there is a lot of fraud. Browsing Bitcoin forums and it’s not hard to find posts of people frustrated at being scammed out of several hundred Bitcoins (the current conversion is 1btc = $3) because there is no regulatory authority to reverse fraudulent transactions.

However, that’s not to say everyone that uses Bitcoin is a criminal or that every transaction is related to an illegal item. The idea of totally free online transactions should appeal to anybody that sells online, as it could result in lower product prices for the end user.

Over the course of my research, 1 of the many aspects of distributed currencies I would like to look into is ways of making a distributed economy that is less risky to use (e.g. reducing fraud and scams, it maybe that this means reducing anonymity) but maintaining the benefits of free transactions and no single point of failure/corruption.

My 2 subjects of research

My background is in computing science, I think it would be useful for me to also have a better understanding of economics and and criminology for the aspect of research above. Why?:

Economics: wikipedia described economics as “the social science that analyses the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.” I believe a deeper understanding of this and the methods associated with economics would allow me to conduct more informed, appropriate and educated research and to account for and explain the necessity of currency, trade and economies. Specifically I would like to look into online/cyber economics as it’s important to understand the differences (if any) between how people trade online vs. in the real world and how to cater towards these differences and incorporate them into my future research.

Reading Material
I’m not sure yet, I’ve been looking for economics books relating to the web and internet but have been unsuccessful in finding any so far. If anyone has any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to put them forward!

Criminology: wikipedia describes criminology as “the scientific study of the nature extent, causes and control of criminal behaviour in both the individual and in society.” In order to protect something against crime and fraud, I believe it’s important to first understand why people commit crime and fraud in the first place. Specifically I would like to look into cyber criminology to try and get an idea of the research methods used to access and understand such a dark corner of the web. I’d like to learn if and how researchers in this area get full, truthful and honest answers from an area that is inherently full of people willing to mislead.

Reading Material
Not 100% sure on this one yet, but here’s a few ideas:

Cyber Criminology: Exploring Internet Crimes and Criminal Behaviour (2011)

“Approaching the topic from a social science perspective, the book explores methods for determining the causes of computer crime.”

Cyber Forensics and Cyber Crime: An Introduction (2008)

“It includes and exhaustive discussion of legal and social issues, fully defines computer crime…provides a comprehensive analysis of current case law, constitutional challenges and government legislation”

Written by djh2g11 on October 25th, 2011

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Cybercrime from a criminologist and psychological perspective   no comments

Posted at 3:00 pm in Criminology,Psychology

The growth of the Internet presents a series of new challenges to both individuals and society as a whole.  Cybercrime refers to an array of diverse, illegal, illicit activities that all share one thing in common – the environment in which they take place – ‘cyberspace.’

After much consideration the two disciplines that I have decided to examine are Criminology and Psychology.  After exploring the underlying principles of both these disciplines, I hope to conclude whether they support each other or conflict with regards to the issue of cybercrime.  Similarly, I will also take into account the challenges that cybercrime presents to each discipline, and conclude whether these perspectives offer any solutions to the problem.

As these are both disciplines I have never studied before I am going to look at reading undergraduate text books and basic introductory books as recommended by my peers. I have decided to start my research on criminology by reading the following books:

The Oxford Handbook of Criminology by Mike Maguire, Rod Morgan, and Robert Reiner

An Introduction to Criminological Theory by Roger Hopkins Burke.

For the physiology part of my review I am going to be using the books listed below:

Basic Psychology by Henry Gleitman et al.

The Psychology of the Internet by Patricia Wallace

Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behaviour by Dennis Coon and John Mitterer

I have also come across the following book which I will use to do some background reading on the issue of cybercrime :

Cybercrime and Society by Majid Yar

Written by kd2v07 on October 27th, 2010

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The Criminology and Economic incentives behind Cybercrimes   no comments

Posted at 11:09 pm in Criminology,Economics

The prevailing assumption of cybercrime is that it is a massive threat that could cause unimaginable chaos to society. However, this is just a virtual threat. The reality is that cybercrimes most often involve small impact bulk victimisations which can be individually insignificant but collectively significant. Most cybercriminals target the long tail of crime where they prefer to commit more crimes with less gain. An example of that would be a cybercriminal scamming 50 million people for £1.


Such a model of crime has several advantages over traditional models of crime as individually insignificant amount of losses means:
1. Victims would be less bothered about reporting the crime
2. Police less likely to get involved
3. Credit card companies less bothered

For more information, please see the presentation on “Organized Crime and the Organization of Cybercrime” given by David Wall.

The study of cybercrime requires a multidisciplinary approach as the society is affected. Economics, law, sociology, psychology and criminology are just some of the disciplines involved. It is my intention to understand cybercrimes from the economics and criminology perspective so that I can have a better understanding on why cybercrimes occur.


After reading the presentation on “How Economics and Information Security Affects Cyber Crime and What This Means in the Context of a Global Recession” given by Peter Guerra, I believe that by understanding more about the economic incentives behind cybercrime, that is, the incentives to commit crime and the incentives to protect from crime, I would gain a better understanding of the rationale behind cybercrimes and whether critical points can be identified using economic theories.

The economic books which I’m proposing to read are:

  1. Microeconomics: Principles and analysis by F.A. Cowell
  2. Economics (6th Ed) by J. Sloman


Criminology is the study of crimes and by studying criminology, I’m looking to develop an understanding on the theories in criminology and an imaginative mind on crimes so that not only I can understand why crimes occur but can also anticipate when and where crime is likely to occur. There are three textbooks I’ve found which are relevant:

  1. Criminology: The Basics by Sandra Walklate
  2. The Oxford Handbook of Criminology by Mike Maguire, Rod Morgan, and Robert Reiner
  3. Cybercrime: The Transformation of Crime in the Information Age by David S. Wall
  4. Handbook of Internet Crime by Yvonne Jewkes and Majid Yar

Written by my2e09 on February 17th, 2010

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