Criminology Criminal Use of Technology
by
Richard K. Moule
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 February 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0211

Introduction

Substantial growth has occurred since the 1990s in technologies sectors: the widespread use of the Internet, cellular telephones, digital media, and social networking sites. Suffice it to say, much of everyday life has moved online. Just as these emerging technologies offer a number of benefits to users, so too do they open up new opportunities for crime and deviance. Technology can act as an environment and means for offending (as in the case of hacking) and as a facilitator for deviance and crime in the real world (as with gangs, terrorism, and child pornography). Research over the past decade has begun elaborating on various criminal uses of the technology, including computer hacking and digital piracy, the creation and dissemination of child pornography and sexting, identity fraud and theft, and cyber bullying and harassment. A parallel body of research details the online presence and digital capabilities of antisocial groups, such as gangs, cults, and terrorist and extremist organizations, among others. The development of a coherent body of research on the criminal use of technology spans disciplines and theories of individual and group behavior. Indeed, it is noteworthy that these areas are concerns not just for criminology, but also for public health, human development, computer science, economics, and public policy. Further, the diverse nature of offending intimately tied to technology means that understanding how criminals embrace and harness these technologies carries important implications for theorists and practitioners alike. Despite its interdisciplinary appeal, and the very real problems associated with cyber deviance, rarely do these disciplines engage one another. This article brings together, and provides readers with, interdisciplinary readings and references to important and influential works examining deviant and criminal uses of technology since the 1990s. Although this article concentrates primarily on online offending and the use of technology by antisocial groups, it is nevertheless important to also understand cyber victimization or institutional reactions to the criminal uses of technology. Where applicable, references to these areas are also discussed.

General Overviews

A number of works detail the use of technology for deviant or criminal purposes. Felson and Boba 2010 provides an overview of routine activity theory and the way in which everyday items and behaviors can be linked to crime. Natarajan, et al. 1995 is an early example of this way of thinking in detailing the importance of telephones for drug dealing. Newman and Clarke 2011 provides a logical extension of Felson and Boba 2010, which presents a framework to the online world. Yar 2013 and Wall 2001 are early overviews of the growing problems associated with cybercrime. Wall 2001 further provides a typology of cybercrimes, which is used in Holt and Bossler 2014 (cited under Anthologies and State of the Literature Reviews) to frame the current state of knowledge surrounding cybercrime. Taylor, et al. 2015 brings together research linking individual and group offending behaviors online in an accessible way. Arquilla and Ronfeldt 2001 provides a somewhat extreme but important view of cybercrime from the perspective of government, and the challenges associated with use of increasingly sophisticated technology by antisocial groups.

  • Arquilla, John, and David Ronfeldt, eds. 2001. Networks and netwars: The future of terror, crime, and militancy. Santa Monica, CA: RAND.

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    Focuses on asymmetrical conflict and the use of the technology to promote and support violence, terrorism, and other forms of extremism both domestically and abroad. Less criminologically focused, but covers a number of important antisocial groups.

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  • Felson, Marcus, and Rachel L. Boba. 2010. Crime and everyday life. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    DOI: 10.4135/9781483349299Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Most recent version of the book. Influential framework for early studies of cybercrime and cyber victimization; useful for undergraduates. This edition integrates insights from control theory into the routine activity framework.

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  • Hollinger, Richard C., and Lonn Lanza-Kaduce. 1988. The process of criminalization: The case of computer crime laws. Criminology 26.1: 101–126.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.1988.tb00834.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Early account of the institutional efforts to criminalize online behavior. Good window into the development and definitions of cybercrime from a legal and social control perspective.

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  • Natarajan, Mangai, Ronald V. Clarke, and Bruce D. Johnson. 1995. Telephones as facilitators of drug dealing. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research 3.3: 137–153.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF02242934Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Conceptually important piece demonstrating how to think about technology and crime and the challenges they pose for law enforcement.

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  • Newman, Graeme R., and Ronald V. Clarke. 2011. Superhighway robbery: Preventing E-commerce crime. Oxon, UK: Routledge.

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    An important book for considering how to prevent cybercrime and cyber victimization, particularly those offenses related to e-commerce. Emphasizes rational choice and situational crime prevention strategies, to the neglect of other major criminological theories.

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  • Taylor, Robert W., Eric J. Fritsch, and John Liederbach. 2015. Digital crime and digital terrorism. 3d ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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    The volume covers a broad body of cybercrime literature fairly successfully, including the online presence of antisocial groups and state social control responses to cybercrime. Useful for undergraduates.

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  • Wall, David S., ed. 2001. Crime and the Internet: Cybercrimes and cyberfears. New York: Routledge.

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    Seminal work laying a foundation for thinking about cybercrime. Defines four main cybercrime areas: hacking and cybertrespass, cyber-deception and theft, cyber porn and obscenity, and cyber violence. Lays out much of the foundation for research in this area, much of which remains unexplored.

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  • Yar, Majid. 2013. Cybercrime and society. 2d ed. Los Angeles: SAGE.

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    Solid introductory work, covering traditional areas of cybercrime and cyber victimization. Also explores the role of civil liberties in trying to control cybercrime and the diffusion of child pornography and hate speech on the Internet.

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Journals

Research examining cyber deviance spans disciplines, and thus a wide number of journals are useful resources for research. However, journals are rarely dedicated exclusively to the study of cyber deviance. The International Journal of Cyber Criminology is an exception, and is openly available online. Deviant Behavior examines all kinds of behavior, including those occurring through digital mediums. Pew Internet is not a journal, but rather a research center that deals in large-scale national sampling on issues related to technology. The center also has datasets that can be downloaded. Social Science Computer Review and Computers in Human Behavior are two interdisciplinary journals focusing on the relationship between new technologies and the social sciences. The Proceedings of the IEEE offer a more engineering and computer science-focused assessment of technology, some of which is applicable to the study of crime.

Anthologies and State of the Literature Reviews

Zeviar-Geese 1997 and Wall 2001 are essential foundations for the study of criminal uses of technology. Wall 2001, a typology of cyber offending, informs both Holt and Bossler 2014 and Jewkes and Yar 2012. In tandem, these three works provide a thorough overview of the evolution and state of the literature on offending and technology. Judge 2012 relies on developmental perspectives to discuss sexting, an emerging area of research that is receiving growing attention from psychologists and researchers interested in human development. These overviews make clear that research on the Internet spans academic boundaries and is emerging as an interdisciplinary phenomenon.

Hacking and Cybertrespass

Computer hacking reflects one of the basic areas defined in Wall 2001 (cited under General Overviews) as cybercrime. Hacking specifically refers to the unauthorized accessing of computer systems, networks, or other data sources and digital devices. The history of hacking is complex, and both Jordan and Taylor 1998 and Holt 2007 provide seminal accounts of the hacking subculture. As detailed in Furnell and Warren 1999 and Thomas 2002, public perceptions of hacking have varied greatly since the 1980s. Nonetheless, hacking falls within the general purview of cyber deviance. Explanations for hacking are diverse (see Yar 2005), but research has relied heavily on the principles of social learning theory. Much of this research, including Morris and Blackburn 2009 and, to a lesser degree, Holt, et al. 2012, draws on the seminal work Skinner and Fream 1997. Work with an orientation toward economics, such as Leeson and Coyne 2005, notes that informal incentives are a major catalyst for hacking. Finally, a recent research work, Wilson, et al. 2015, extends prior work by focusing on deterrence and rational choice explanations of hacking, using experimental methods.

  • Furnell, Steven M., and Matthew J. Warren. 1999. Computer hacking and cyber terrorism: The real threats in the new millennium? Computers & Security 18.1: 28–34.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0167-4048(99)80006-6Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Early account and general overview of the dangers of hacking and other forms of cyberterrorism; international focus. Good discussion of technical forms of hacking, encryption, and denial of service attacks.

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  • Holt, Thomas J. 2007. Subcultural evolution? Examining the influence of on-and off-line experiences on deviant subcultures. Deviant Behavior 28.2: 171–198.

    DOI: 10.1080/01639620601131065Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Holt considers the online and offline linkages within and across criminal subcultures, focusing on hackers. Provides a nuanced view of the hacking subculture.

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  • Holt, Thomas J., Deborah Strumsky, Olga Smirnova, and Max Kilger. 2012. Examining the social networks of malware writers and hackers. International Journal of Cyber Criminology 6.1: 891–903.

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    Network analysis examining the social organization of Russian computer hackers. Elaborates on and confirms prior qualitative work that had examined online hacker subcultures.

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  • Jordan, Tim, and Paul Taylor. 1998. A sociology of hackers. The Sociological Review 46.4: 757–780.

    DOI: 10.1111/1467-954X.00139Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A seminal, early account of the hacking subculture. Excellent discussion of the overall culture and six specific aspects (technology, secrecy, anonymity, membership fluidity, male dominance, and motivations) provides a profile of hackers and discusses how the hacking community creates social boundaries.

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  • Leeson, Peter T., and Christopher J. Coyne. 2005. The economics of computer hacking. Journal of Law, Economics & Policy 1.2: 511–532.

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    Leeson and Coyne break down some of the nuances and fragmentation among communities of hackers and elaborates on the social and economic incentives for hacking. Applies a more rational choice-oriented perspective to explain hacking, a relative rarity in the literature.

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  • Morris, Robert G., and Ashley G. Blackburn. 2009. Cracking the code: An empirical exploration of social learning theory and computer crime. Journal of Crime and Justice 32.1: 1–34.

    DOI: 10.1080/0735648X.2009.9721260Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Main strength of the article is an examination of a diverse setting of hacking-related behaviors, including password guessing, unauthorized system access, and the malicious use of software and malware. Uses a sample of college students and does not account for alternative theoretical influences.

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  • Skinner, William F., and Anne M. Fream. 1997. A social learning theory analysis of computer crime among college students. Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency 34.4: 495–518.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022427897034004005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An early and important assessment of the applicability of mainstream criminological theory to cyber deviance. Findings supported the usefulness of a learning framework for piracy and hacking; a foundational work for much of contemporary research.

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  • Thomas, Douglas. 2002. Hacker culture. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

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    Thomas provides an in-depth discussion of the evolution of the hacker subculture, detailing its evolution as paralleling advances in communication technology.

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  • Wilson, Theodore, David Maimon, Bertrand Sobesto, and Michel Cukier. 2015. The effect of a surveillance banner in an attacked computer system: Additional evidence for the relevance of restrictive deterrence in cyberspace. Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency 52.6: 829–855.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022427815587761Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses a randomized control trial to evaluate whether deterrence against hacking attempts is possible; findings supported this consideration. Innovative methods and interdisciplinary collaboration make this piece, and related work by the authors, especially valuable.

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  • Yar, Majid. 2005. Computer hacking: Just another case of juvenile delinquency? Howard Journal of Criminal Justice 44.4: 387–399.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2311.2005.00383.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Yar brings together and draws parallels among criminological, psychological, and developmental perspectives on hacking; includes discussion of the social construction of hacking. Solid introductory piece for undergraduates.

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Piracy

Digital piracy reflects illicit copying, sharing, or transmission of software or media (see Wall 2001 [cited under General Overviews]). The evolution of research on piracy has moved from descriptive accounts, such as Sims, et al. 1996, to univariate and bivariate assessments, such as Hinduja 2001. Skinner and Fream 1997 (cited under Hacking and Cybertrespass) is an early example of applying criminological theory, in this case social learning theory, to the online context. Higgins 2004 and Higgins, et al. 2005 extend these theoretical considerations by focusing on self-control and deterrence, respectively. Burruss, et al. 2012 is one of the first attempts at accounting for multiple theoretical frameworks when examining cybercrime, specifically self-control and social learning. Limayem, et al. 2004 incorporates longitudinal data and path analyses, as well as multiple theoretical frameworks, to examine piracy behaviors. Moores and Chang 2006 presents a modified rational choice argument to examine software piracy among students in Hong Kong. Moon, et al. 2010 expands the body of research on piracy beyond college students, an important stepping-stone to examine the generality of criminological theories in the online context. Given the newness of this body of research, these articles are particularly accessible for undergraduates and graduate students alike.

  • Burruss, George W., Adam Bossler, and Thomas J. Holt. 2012. Assessing the mediation of a fuller social learning model on low self-control’s influence on software piracy. Crime & Delinquency 59.8: 1157–1184.

    DOI: 10.1177/0011128712437915Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A recent attempt to elaborate on the theoretical mechanisms that promote piracy, though lacking other potentially important theoretical constructs. Notably, finds a suppression effect between learning and control variables.

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  • Higgins, George E. 2004. Can low self-control help with the understanding of the software piracy problem? Deviant Behavior 26.1: 1–24.

    DOI: 10.1080/01639620490497947Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Early attempt to use self-control in predicting piracy. Set the stage for Burruss, et al. 2012 by finding that self-control and delinquent peers matter differently for various groups of potential offenders.

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  • Higgins, George E., Abby L. Wilson, and Brian D. Fell. 2005. An application of deterrence theory to software piracy. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture 12.3: 166–184.

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    The authors consider the rational aspects of piracy among undergraduates, a population known to engage in high levels of software piracy. Certainty of punishment and informal consequences of being caught pirating reduced the likelihood of illicit behavior. Innovative use of factorial design for cyber offending.

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  • Hinduja, Sameer. 2001. Correlates of Internet software piracy. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 17.4: 369–382.

    DOI: 10.1177/1043986201017004006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Early assessment of the predictors of piracy among a sample of college students in the American Midwest. Provides solid examples of pirating measures but does not examine predictors of piracy in a multivariate context.

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  • Limayem, Moez, Mohamed Khalifa, and Wynne W. Chin. 2004. Factors motivating software piracy: A longitudinal study. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management 51.4: 414–425.

    DOI: 10.1109/TEM.2004.835087Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors use an integrated social psychological approach and path analysis to assess piracy over a three-month period. Findings are consistent with both learning and rational choice perspectives and prior research. Draws attention to other theories and methods that may be applicable to cybercrime.

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  • Moon, Byongook, John D. McCluskey, and Cynthia Perez McCluskey. 2010. A general theory of crime and computer crime: An empirical test. Journal of Criminal Justice 38.4: 767–772.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2010.05.003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A straightforward assessment of the influence of self-control on digital piracy and identity theft using a large sample of Korean youth. Shows the movement away from using convenience samples of college students and the generality of cyber offending.

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  • Moores, Trevor T., and Jerry Cha-Jan Chang. 2006. Ethical decision making in software piracy: Initial development and test of a four-component model. Management Information Systems Quarterly 30.1: 167–180.

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    Uses a similar framework and modeling strategy as Limayem, et al. 2004 with a sample of Hong Kong college students. Demonstrates utility of diverse sampling frames and theories for explaining cyber deviance.

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  • Sims, Ronald R., Hsing K. Cheng, and Hildy Teegen. 1996. Toward a profile of student software piraters. Journal of Business Ethics 15.8: 839–849.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF00381852Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    One of the early descriptive accounts of demographic characteristics of pirates. Essentially a baseline for all piracy research, with findings largely consistent with other forms of offending.

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Online Sexual Deviance, Child Pornography, and Sexting

The use of the Internet and new media technologies for the creation, retrieval, and dissemination of obscene materials, including pornography depicting children or adults, and more recently sexting, fall into the third cybercrime typology of Wall 2001 (cited under General Overviews). This research can be divided into a number of distinct areas. First, an emerging body of research focuses on adolescent participation in sexting. Lenhart 2009 gives a descriptive assessment of sexting in providing the foundation for understanding this emerging social phenomena. Katzman 2010 takes a medical provider-oriented approach to understanding sexting. The authors of Baumgartner, et al. 2012 use a large sample of Dutch adolescents to explore correlates of online and offline sexual behaviors, including sexting. Gordon-Messer, et al. 2013 examines the relationship between sexting, other sexual behaviors, and psychological well-being among a large sample of American young adults. Using a nationally representative sample of adolescents, the authors of Mitchell, et al. 2012 expand on Lenhart’s research, suggesting that new technologies may make some adolescent sexual behavior more visible, but not entail dramatic behavioral changes. A second body of research examines the networks that promote the dissemination of child pornography and other forms of online sexual deviance, as well as the characteristics, practices, and responses to online sex offenders. Cohen-Almagor 2013 explores how sex offenders use the web by drawing on routine activity and rational choice theories. Hurley, et al. 2013 discusses the application of digital forensics for examining online sexual offenses. Jenkins 2001 is an early account of the proliferation of child pornography, and laws created in response to this proliferation, due to the Internet. Taylor and Quayle 2003 elaborates on the social nature of child pornography production and dissemination. Westlake and Bouchard 2016 extends the criminal careers paradigm to the online realm, examining survival rates of websites containing child pornography. Schulz, et al. 2016 uses a large sample of adult European Internet users to explore the online sexual solicitation of minors. These areas share a commonality that each is only beginning to move beyond descriptive accounts of these occurrences. Multivariate analysis has yielded sometimes conflicting or contradictory results. Most importantly, this research has remained undertheorized, and it is ripe for elaboration using criminological theories.

  • Baumgartner, Susanne E., Sindy R. Sumter, Jochen Peter, and Patti M. Valkenburg. 2012. Identifying teens at risk: Developmental pathways of online and offline sexual risk behavior. Pediatrics 130.6: 1489–1496.

    DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-0842Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Longitudinal analysis of sexual behaviors through emerging adulthood of Dutch adolescents. In contrast to Gordon-Messer, et al. 2013, authors link online and offline behaviors to a set of common factors consistent with control theories of antisocial behavior.

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  • Cohen-Almagor, Raphael. 2013. Online child sex offenders: Challenges and counter-measures. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice 52.2: 190–215.

    DOI: 10.1111/hojo.12006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Cohen-Almagor integrates routine activity and rational choice perspectives to explain how sex offenders use the web to distribute and receive child pornography. Explores history of pornographers online and law enforcement strategies to combat pornographers.

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  • Gordon-Messer, Deborah, Jose Arturo Bauermeister, Alison Grodzinski, and Marc Zimmerman. 2013. Sexting among young adults. Journal of Adolescent Health 52.3: 301–306.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.05.013Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Multivariate assessment of sexting among a sample of over 3,000 young adults eighteen to twenty-four years of age. Notably suggests that sexting is unrelated to other risky sexual behaviors.

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  • Hurley, Ryan, Swagatika Prusty, Hamed Soroush, et al. 2013. Measurement and analysis of child pornography trafficking on p2p networks. In WWW’13: Proceedings of the 22nd international conference on World Wide Web, May 13–17, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Edited by Daniel Schwabe, Virgilio Almeida, Hartmut Glaser, Ricardo Baeza-Yates, and Sue Moon, 631–642. Geneva, Switzerland: International World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee.

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    The authors describe the difficulties of applying criminal forensics to the online trafficking of pornography. Effective intervention strategies were found to be those that target individuals who frequently upload illicit content.

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  • Jenkins, Philip. 2001. Beyond tolerance: Child pornography on the Internet. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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    An early, holistic examination of the role of the Internet in the dissemination of child pornography, the social construction of issues surrounding child pornography, and state-based responses to control the availability and spread of online child pornography.

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  • Katzman, D. K. 2010. Sexting: Keeping teens safe and responsible in a technologically savvy world. Pediatrics & Child Health 15.1: 41–42.

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    Short discussion of the implications of sexting for practitioners and health-care professionals. Discusses potential reasons for sexting, although not within a theoretical framework.

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  • Lenhart, Amanda. 2009. Teens and sexting. A Pew Internet & American Life Project report. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.

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    Descriptive account. Providing a baseline estimate of sexting among a national sample of adolescents.

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  • Mitchell, Kimberly J., David Finkelhor, Lisa M. Jones, and Janis Wolak. 2012. Prevalence and characteristics of youth sexting: A national study. Pediatrics 129.1: 13–20.

    DOI: 10.1542/peds.2011-1730Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Descriptive account. Finds sexting to be rarer than Lenhart 2009 among a national sample of US adolescents. Draws attention to the importance of defining and operationalizing sexting for measurement purposes.

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  • Schulz, Anja, Emilia Bergen, Petya Schuhmann, Jürgen Hoyer, and Pekka Santtila. 2016. Online sexual solicitation of minors: How often and between whom does it occur? Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency 53.2: 165–188.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022427815599426Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Recent descriptive account of the sexual solicitation of minors by adult Internet users in three European countries. Includes sampling from pedophilic websites. An innovative and timely assessment of the topic.

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  • Taylor, Maxwell, and Ethel Quayle. 2003. Child pornography: An Internet crime. New York: Brunner-Routledge.

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    Taylor and Quayle focus on the role of technology in not only the creation and dissemination of child pornography, but also the psychology of collecting this particular form of pornography, and the social nature of pornography creation and dissemination. Provides linkages to broader policy debates involving criminal justice and social welfare.

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  • Westlake, Bryce G., and Martin Bouchard. 2016. Criminal careers in cyberspace: Examining website failure within child exploitation networks. Justice Quarterly 33.7: 1154–1181.

    DOI: 10.1080/07418825.2015.1046393Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Westlake and Bouchard examine the lifespan of websites containing child pornography using a custom-built “web crawler,” social network data, and hazard regression models. Compares the survival rates of these websites to sports-related and pornographic and sexual education websites. Integrates the criminal careers paradigm with the study of cybercrime.

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Identity Fraud and Theft

Digital fraud, phishing schemes, and spam emails all fall under the category of cyber deception, and they are closely related to piracy and hacking (see Wall 2001 [cited under General Overviews]). Copes and Vieraitis 2009 offers firsthand accounts of fraudsters in real life. Rege 2009 and Hong 2012 are both easy-to-read overviews of the organization of online schemes, giving examples and describing the difficulties of addressing online fraud. Bilge, et al. 2009 shows how data mining is facilitating new forms of fraud to be used. Piquero, et al. 2011 and White and Fisher 2008 focus on potential solutions to prevent or inhibit identity theft and fraud. Holtfreter, et al. 2008 and Reyns 2013 discuss theoretical correlates of online identity theft and fraud victimization. Holt 2013 elaborates some of the dynamics present in online markets that deal in stolen identities and other sensitive data. Williams 2015 examines online identity theft among European countries through the use of multilevel modeling and representative sampling strategies.

  • Bilge, Leyla, Thorsten Strufe, Davide Balzarotti, and Engin Kirda. 2009. All your contacts belong to us: Automated identity theft attacks on social networks. In Proceedings of the 18th international conference on World Wide Web, April 20–24, 2009, Madrid, Spain. Edited by Juan Quemada and León Gonzalo, 551–560. New York: ACM.

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    The authors depict the ease with which social media profiles can be cloned automatically and be used to tap into existing social networks to acquire broad swathes of victim information. Combines digital and experimental methodologies.

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  • Copes, Heith, and Lynne M. Vieraitis. 2009. Understanding identity theft offenders’ accounts of their lives and crimes. Criminal Justice Review 34.3: 329–349.

    DOI: 10.1177/0734016808330589Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Qualitative account of identity theft by incarcerated identity thieves. Demonstrates that many thieves do not rely on technically sophisticated methods for acquiring identities but through happenstance and connections to legitimate enterprises. Identities were used to open credit lines and acquire goods that could be used or resold on the street.

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  • Holt, Thomas J. 2013. Examining the forces shaping cybercrime markets online. Social Science Computer Review 31.2: 165–177.

    DOI: 10.1177/0894439312452998Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using an ethnography of ten Russian web forums where sensitive personal data is bought and sold, Holt demonstrates how market forces and informal social dynamics within these forums influence and facilitate these illicit behaviors.

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  • Holtfreter, Kristy, Michael D. Reisig, and Travis C. Pratt. 2008. Low self-control, routine activities, and fraud victimization. Criminology 46.1: 189–220.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.2008.00101.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Multivariate regression examining risk factors for fraud victimization among a representative sample of Florida adults. Online shopping was found to increase the likelihood of being targeted for online fraud, while low self-control increased the likelihood of fraud victimization.

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  • Hong, Jason. 2012. The state of phishing attacks. Communications of the ACM 55.1: 74–81.

    DOI: 10.1145/2063176.2063197Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Overview of phishing schemes and digital identity theft. Offers examples and references to working groups aimed at elaborating on phishing and similar schemes online.

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  • Piquero, Nicole Leeper, Mark A. Cohen, and Alex R. Piquero. 2011. How much is the public willing to pay to be protected from identity theft? Justice Quarterly 28.3: 437–459.

    DOI: 10.1080/07418825.2010.511245Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors assess public support for identity-theft reduction strategies generally. Easily applicable to the online world. Does not distinguish between methods of theft (digital versus off-line), but has strong applicability in an increasingly wired society. Excellent example of potential policy responses to issues associated with criminal use of technology.

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  • Rege, Aunshul. 2009. What’s love got to do with it? Exploring online dating scams and identity fraud. International Journal of Cyber Criminology 3.2: 494–512.

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    In-depth discussion of romance scams and the organization of these scams internationally. Provides useful examples of real-life cases. Presents a profile of the typical scammer.

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  • Reyns, Bradford W. 2013. Online routines and identity theft victimization: Further expanding routine activity theory beyond direct-contact offenses. Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency 50.2: 216–238.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022427811425539Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Multivariate regression analysis using the 2008 to 2009 British Crime Survey. Emphasizes the role of online routine activities as an important predictor of online victimization.

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  • White, Michael D., and Christopher Fisher. 2008. Assessing our knowledge of identity theft: The challenges to effective prevention and control efforts. Criminal Justice Policy Review 19.1: 3–24.

    DOI: 10.1177/0887403407306297Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Reviews legislative and practical challenges to addressing identity theft in the United States. Argues for a situational crime prevention approach to combat identity theft.

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  • Williams, Matthew L. 2015. Guardians upon high: An application of routine activities theory to online identity theft in Europe at the country and individual level. The British Journal of Criminology 57.1: 21–48.

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    Rigorous multivariate, multilevel analysis of routine activities and online identity theft among residents in twenty-seven European countries. Uses nuanced measures of individual guardianship and discusses policy implications for combatting identity theft as technology becomes more pervasive.

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Cyber Bullying, Cyber Harassment, and Cyber Stalking

Cyber bullying, harassment, and stalking all reflect cyber violence, the fourth category of Wall 2001 (cited under General Overviews), and it has been the subject of increased academic attention. Research has moved from descriptive to multivariate analyses and has incorporated a variety of theoretical perspectives. Connell, et al. 2014 provides evidence of the link between online and offline bullying, while accounting for control-based and cultural explanations of offending. The authors of Mishna, et al. 2010 and Mishna, et al. 2012 use a large sample of Canadian adolescents to examine correlates of cyberbullying, concentrating on self-control and routine activities online. The authors of Kowalski and Limber 2007 use a sample of Canadian adolescents to elaborate on off- and online bullying, identifying discrete groups of perpetrators. Hinduja and Patchin 2008 promotes the integration of criminological theory with this body of research, focusing on the role of self-control. Pittaro 2007 discusses the legal and policing implications for addressing cyber violence.

  • Connell, Nadine M., Natalie M. Schell-Busey, Allison N. Pearce, and Pamela Negro. 2014. Badgrlz? Exploring sex differences in cyberbullying behaviors. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 12.3: 209–228.

    DOI: 10.1177/1541204013503889Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Gendered, multivariate analysis incorporating belief in conventional norms and a single item indicator of the code of the street in analyses. Strong link between online and offline bullying. Interdisciplinary review of literature.

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  • Hinduja, Sameer, and Justin W. Patchin. 2008. Cyberbullying: An exploratory analysis of factors related to offending and victimization. Deviant Behavior 29.2: 129–156.

    DOI: 10.1080/01639620701457816Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Multivariate analysis of data from an online survey. Links offline and online bullying, and strongly insinuates that self-control is a substantive correlate of these behaviors. Discusses the role of criminological theory in assessing online behaviors, a rarity in cyber bullying literature.

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  • Kowalski, Robin M., and Susan P. Limber. 2007. Electronic bullying among middle school students. Journal of Adolescent Health 41.6: 22–30.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.08.017Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Descriptive account among a large sample of Canadian youth. Demonstrates that a small overlap exists between cyber bullying and cyber victimization, and discrete groups which engage in either behavior. Depicts methods and scope of harassment online.

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  • Mishna, Faye, Charlene Cook, Tahany Gadalla, Joanne Daciuk, and Steven Solomon. 2010. Cyberbullying behaviors among middle and high school students. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 80.3: 362–374.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1939-0025.2010.01040.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Descriptive account of cyberbullying behavior among a nationally representative sample of Canadian youth. Its strength is the diversity of behavioral cyber bullying measures.

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  • Mishna, Faye, Mona Khoury-Kassabri, Tahany Gadalla, and Joanne Daciuk. 2012. Risk factors for involvement in cyber bullying: Victims, bullies and bully-victims. Children and Youth Services Review 34.1: 63–70.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.08.032Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Multivariate analysis of Canadian adolescents. Strongly hints at the importance of self-control and online routine activities as correlates of cyber bullying, victimization, and their overlap.

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  • Pittaro, Michael L. 2007. Cyber stalking: An analysis of online harassment and intimidation. International Journal of Cyber Criminology 1.2: 180–197.

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    Broad overview of cyber harassment and victimization. Provides useful insights regarding the difficulties of digital stalking for law enforcement, the emergence of anti-stalking legislation, and intervention strategies to address this form of harassment.

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Gangs Online

The migration of antisocial groups online is logical, perhaps especially so for gangs and gang members, given their youth. Décary-Hétu and Morselli 2011, Morselli and Décary-Hétu 2012, and Womer and Bunker 2010 each focus on documenting online gang behavior by examining the social media presence of these groups. Décary-Hétu and Morselli 2011 and Morselli and Décary-Hétu 2012 provide descriptive accounts of online gang behavior, particularly the role of the web for reputation-building activities such as flaunting wealth. Womer and Bunker 2010 do much the same, comparing the online behavior of gangs to Mexican cartels. Recent research has attempted to elaborate on the “dark figure” of gang content and better adjudicate between individuals and gangs and between users and nonusers Decker and Pyrooz 2011a provides a preliminary analysis of the online behavior of gangs and gang members based on survey work conducted in five American cities. Decker and Pyrooz 2011b elaborates on the possibility that online media may serve as a radicalization tool for antisocial groups, suggesting that gang members may be especially ripe for recruiting. Pyrooz, et al. 2015 expands on Decker and Pyrooz 2011a by comparing online behaviors across current, former, and non-gang members, as well as providing descriptive accounts of online gang behavior. The authors of Moule, et al. 2014 draws from organizational theory to elaborate on the factors influencing the adoption and use of the Internet by American street gangs. Sela-Shayovitz 2012 is an ethnography of gang members in Israel, concentrating on online behaviors. These works largely suggest that gangs remain focused on the symbolic uses of the web—appearing tough and celebrating gang culture and reputation rather than using new technologies to make profits or expand antisocial enterprises. National Gang Intelligence Center 2011, a law enforcement account of gangs online by the now-defunct organization, reflects a view of gangs as becoming more technologically sophisticated and engaging in higher order cybercrimes, though research has yet to substantiate these claims.

Terrorist Groups Online

Terrorism and the use of communication technologies, particularly the Internet, have garnered interest from academics and policymakers alike. This interest has resulted in competing views of how these groups effectively use these technologies. Arquilla and Ronfeldt 2001 and Jackson 2001 provide government-oriented perspectives and descriptions of how terror groups adopt new technology generally. Weimann 2006, Weimann 2009, Tsfati and Weimann 2002, and Weimann and Knop 2008 each give illustrative accounts of the symbolic and instrumental roles of technology for violence and propaganda for groups in the Middle East. Qin, et al. 2005 provides a limited description of assessing the online presence of multiple groups (see also Zhou, et al. 2005 [cited under Extremist Groups Online]) through the use of a web crawler. Berger and Morgan 2015 examines the social media base of an emerging terrorist group in the Middle East, ISIS (also known as ISIL, the Islamic State, or Daesh), which is beginning to draw academic interest.

Extremist Groups Online

Racial, ethnic, and religious extremist groups represent a common area of research on the use of technology by antisocial groups. Both domestic and international research concentrated on mapping interorganizational connections online during the early 2000s. Burris, et al. 2000 examines the linkages across white supremacist groups online, an early assessment of the use of the web by these groups. Reid and Chen 2002 compares the online presence and behavior of a variety of antisocial and extremist groups, both in the US and in the Middle East. Zhou, et al. 2005 created a “web crawler,” software to map out the connections across the websites of extremist groups and elaborated on how many of these groups are connected. This research has also examined the role that this technology plays in disseminating propaganda and bringing in new recruits. Schafer 2002 provides an excellent, albeit descriptive, overview of the communication techniques used by supremacist groups on their websites. Gerstenfeld, et al. 2003 expands on the content analysis approach used in Schafer 2002, focusing specifically on the links between websites and groups. Daniels 2009 treats the evolution of communication strategies by white supremacist groups as new technologies have emerged. This research has ebbed and flowed over the past decade, and, as Selepak 2010 notes, these websites and organizations tend to appear, disappear, and reappear frequently, leaving this area open to new research. The author of Corb 2011 interviews members of supremacist organizations rather than relying on the content they place online, a necessary next step in better exploring the use of the web by these groups.

  • Burris, Val, Emery Smith, and Ann Strahm. 2000. White supremacist networks on the Internet. Sociological Focus 33.2: 215–234.

    DOI: 10.1080/00380237.2000.10571166Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Social network analysis examining links between extremist group websites. Solid overview of different types of white supremacist organizations. Demonstrates that these organizations are largely isolated from other movements online.

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  • Corb, Abbee. 2011. Into the minds of mayhem: White supremacy, recruitment, and the Internet. Cambridge, UK: Google Ideas.

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    Corb interviewed white supremacists about their use of the web. Use is tied primarily to recruiting efforts. Currently unavailable online.

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  • Daniels, Jessie. 2009. Cyber racism: White supremacy online and the new attack on civil rights. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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    Daniels describes the evolution of white supremacist propaganda online and the movement from print to digital materials; the author emphasizes the use of “cloaked” sites that are not overtly racist but promote revisionist accounts of important historical events (i.e., the Holocaust, the Civil Rights movement).

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  • Gerstenfeld, Phyllis B., Diana R. Grant, and Chau-Pu Chiang. 2003. Hate online: A content analysis of extremist Internet sites. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy 3.1: 29–44.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-2415.2003.00013.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors review 157 white supremacist websites; they examine the presence of youth targeting through child-oriented and multimedia content, merchandising, the predominant emphasis on nonviolence, and the use of misleading website titles and documentation to attract viewers.

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  • Reid, Edna, and Hsinchen Chen. 2002. Internet-savvy US and Middle Eastern extremist groups. Mobilization: An International Quarterly Review 12.2: 177–192.

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    Descriptive account of domestic US and international terrorist websites. Illustrates these links, provides websites, and shows what specific “clusters” of groups do online. Al-Qaeda, jihad sympathizers, and eco-terrorist groups exhibit the most sophisticated use of the web.

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  • Schafer, Joseph. 2002. Spinning the web of hate: Web-based hate propaganda by extremist organizations. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture 9.2: 69–88.

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    A foundational piece; provides a useful history of the relationship between racial supremacy groups and emerging technologies. Thorough account of the modes and means of propaganda on extremist websites.

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  • Selepak, Andrew. 2010. Skinhead super mario brothers: An examination of racist and violent games on white supremacist web sites. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture 17:1–47.

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    Text analysis of online video games used to promote violence against minorities. Draws partially from sites identified in Schafer 2002. Descriptive account of many of these games. Such games fulfill both symbolic and instrumental roles through the promotion of intolerance and recruitment possibilities.

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  • Zhou, Yilu, Edna Reid, Jialun Qin, Hsinchun Chen, and Guanpi Lai. 2005. US domestic extremist groups on the web: Link and content analysis. IEEE Intelligent Systems 20.5: 44–51.

    DOI: 10.1109/MIS.2005.96Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Expanded discussion of Qin, et al. 2005 (cited under Terrorist Groups Online), discussing the methodology behind the “webcrawler” and statistical procedures used to assess activity clustering by antisocial groups.

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