Topic: State-sponsored cyber crime
Disciplines: Criminology & IR
After much deliberation I think I have stumbled upon an idea I’m excited to study. I had originally considered the topic of cyber terrorism but the term and definitions of terrorism are notoriously difficult and I didn’t feel comfortable taking that angle so shifted over to cyber-crime (the definition of crime itself is of course also contested but will post more about that at a later date). Southampton Uni has actually been a bit of a hotbed for cyber-crime research with some of previous Web Science students specialising in it. From the reading I have done so far, much of it seems based on the issue of organised crime in regards to the buying and selling of credit card details. While very interesting that’s not the angle I would prefer to approach this task from. I’m more interested in why states conduct cyber crimes, what are their motives and justifications – the result of this research would have huge implications on future policies. The motivation for me to study might be due to the time I spent in China and seeing endless reports from the U.S. government bemoaning Chinese state-sponsored cyber crimes. In addition there is a lot of discussion about this topic in the media and governments take it very seriously (with an arms race of cyber departments being set up in numerous nations). The UK is clearly concerned with cyber crimes, making it a top priority in their cyber security strategy. Thus the issue is worthy of studying.
To tackle this problem I’ve been reading up on criminology and it’s incredibly fascinating (I hope this positivity will translate into a good final essay!). Criminology looks at the nature of crimes as well as the attempts to control crime. The discipline gives some unique insights into areas that the essay will need to touch upon. Crime is obviously not static, neither is the definition of crime or criminals, national laws differ across nations, punishments fall in and out of favour, etc. It’s been a joy to read up on this topic and combined with IR reflections on a nations motives for increasing power, security, cooperation/conflict and governance I believe the results could be quite interesting. I’m looking forward to trying to mix the two ideas together to come up with an interesting take on an element of cybercrime that has yet to be academically explored.
I will be trying to post some more informal bite-sized reflections on each discipline over the next few weeks & if I spot any interesting facts I might throw them in there too!