Cybercriminals are not as anonymous as you think

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London, Aug 8 (IANS) Those faceless hackers who operate behind thick curtains of binary language and breach your computer to ask for ransom may not be as anonymous as we think they are, new research has revealed.

According to research at Oxford University, contextualising the threat and motivations of cybercriminals is key to stopping and tracing them.

These faceless hackers who rummage through your computer data exist within certain locations. If these locales and the economic situation of those living in them is understood, police can better understand, investigate and counter cybercrime.

The research paper, published in the journal Policing, suggested that hubs of cybercrime are underpinned by frameworks that, to a degree, explain how the crime has become so prevalent there.

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“Understanding the human aspects of cybercriminals — where they live, what they do, who they know, how they are organised and operate — is key to addressing the problem in a more complete way,” said Jonathan Lusthaus, co-author of the study.

According to the research’s co-author Federico Varese, understanding cybercrime isn’t just about the victims but one has to look at the supply of the activity.

“For too long the emphasis has been put on cybercrime as a global activity, but it is a very localised issue. Cybercrime thrives in those places where they can operate with less fear of arrest or punishment,” Varese noted.

“The people involved are not necessarily sophisticated or even high-tech criminal masterminds. They are everyday people with a motivation and an opportunity. If we really focus on where this activity is taking place we should see a reduction in crimes committed,” he added.

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The paper argued cybercrime needs to be tackled in the places where it originates. For example, the study focused on Romania and certain towns within it.

It was found that internet fraud was a huge problem in the country with a number of key factors at play.

With an average monthly salary of $470 per month, Romania is one of Europe’s poorest countries. Yet it has a number of successful technology companies and is widely known for its IT expertise.

“For those not in a position to take advantage of job opportunities in the sector, and outside of the country, a career in cybercrime, known to be financially rewarding, is very tempting,” the research found.

In the case of Romania, the research suggested that fighting cybercrime at its roots is dependent on good local law enforcement and effective governance.

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