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Cybercrime: A Threat to All

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This programme of interaction and research will focus on understanding, preventing and responding to cybercrime.

George R S Weir | Ian J Lloyd

This interdisciplinary and cross-national initiative has three aspects: to secure a coherent and rounded understanding of the diverse nature and characteristics of cybercrime; to develop strategies and solutions that address the social, business, legal and technical challenges, arising in the current context of expanding Internet use and increasing incidence of computer crime; to develop strategies and research directions that further strengthen anti-crime capabilities and meet the challenges of emerging technologies.

Computer-based communications are now vital to individuals, businesses, institutions and nations. In a recent video released by the Whitehouse, President Obama called the threat of cyberattacks ‘one of the most serious economic and national security challenges faced by the US’. As well as promising a strategic appointment at government level to address such threats, President Obama called for publicprivate partnerships to ensure security and privacy in the context of computer networks and operations. The penetration and importance attached to computer-based networking is such that the Finnish government recently declared Internet access as a human right of its citizens. In counter motion to the positive economic and social benefits of computer networking, Cybercrime is one of the planet’s fastest-growing criminal activities.

Cybercrime covers a range of illegal activity - including financial scams (such as phishing), computer hacking, distribution of pornographic images, virus attacks, and information theft - and may be considered broadly as the use of any computer network for crime. Since such activities may originate in any country, and target victims in any other Internet-linked location, cybercrime is potentially global in its impact and is of concern to individuals and agencies worldwide. For this reason, an international perspective is essential and select international participation will go a long way toward satisfying this requirement.

The central question to be addressed by this programme is: What strategies and direct responses can be offered - through a combination of exploit definition, education, law enforcement and technology - toward a reduction in cybercrime and mitigation of its impact? The main aims of this programme are to develop a coherent perspective on the source, nature and direction of cybercriminal activities and their effects, based upon past and present trends, in order to better respond to current evils, anticipate future developments and to specify activities and focus for future research and collaboration.

The Institute for Advanced Studies has more info about the programme team.