Monday, October 31, 2011

Cybercrime, really it's ICT Crime by any other name

Cybercrime, really it's ICT Crime by any other name

Information Commununication Technology (ICT) Crime carried out using a combination of analogue and/or digital technologies is a term used post substantive or inchoate offence. The combination of ICT technologies are in the range of wireless, telecommunications, computing, electronics, and extending to electricty.  Forensically and evidentially speaking it makes sense to use ICT Crime as an identifier, primarily as a fundamental element in forensic examination is the requirement to precisely identify the "thing" used and evidentially one can hardly define to a Court of Law eg a mobile phone merely as an ICT or cyber object.

Cybercrime advocates believe cybercrime is the correct term and in use swallows up every other technology identifier ( Crime_in_which_ICT_plays_a_role_is_known_as_cybercrime ).  Of course, defining technologies because of identical crimes committed on different continents is more of a management event-level labelling terminology to simplify the position but technically speaking it dumbs-down the identity of the technology and/or the complexity of the technologies involved in a crime where cybercrime replaces the name of the technology itself.
Insofar as the title cybercrime conjures up psychological undertones of an undefined contagion threat, as an identifier it falls short of the requirement to 'precisely identify' too; thus there is still more to come in the renewed enthusiasm to use cybercrime as an overarching title for any type of technology crime. I say renewed because in late 1990s and early 2000 cybercrime did the rounds back then and as most of you know it has only been in recent years that cybercrime is being put to widespread reuse.

Using cyber in a title is not new, either. In 1973, 'Cyberstride' was developed by Chile. The author Kevin Cahill in his book "Trade Wars The High-Technology Scandal of the 1980s" made reference to it [page 132]:

"[Salvador] Allende had commissioned a very bright UK computer scientist called Stafford Beer to build him a computer system which would display, in a systematic way, all the major high aggregate flows in the Chilean economy.  The object of Allende's experiment, which resulted in an economic control room in which all the raw facts could be displayed on a huge screen and made subject to 'what if?' and other analysis, was to identify bottlenecks in the existing structures and policy options for the future."   

The relevance of referring to Cyberstride is the first obvious point that 'cyber' as an identifier is in use with computing in 1970s, but as a term it remained a subset identifier under the main title "High Technology". Furthermore, cyberspace in technology terms was, and still is, a subset identifier used under the main titles computing and the Internet. The types of mobile/smart telephones and other technologies used today weren't around then (1973), but in fairness to cybercrime smart phones can today connect to the internet and thus are capable of DDoS, spreading virus and capturing identity etc.

Significantly, the discussion here and the vast discussions in material available by way of the Internet, the term 'cybercrime' has been impossible to use without the absolute necessity to reference the underlying technologies behind a particular technological attack or crime. A current example of technology identity used for cybercrime is reported on the BBC news today and on the BBC online news service: GCHQ chief reports 'disturbing' cyber attacks on UK  .

Cybercrime as a label for management and surveillance clearly has an economic element behind it and may well provide useful intelligence in some technological quarters. Additionally, it may provide an aftermath response to crime uses or attempts by the studying of 'events' on control and communications in complex electronic systems (cybernetics). What is inescapable in using cybercrime as an identity, for it to succeed it is unavoidable that it can do no more in the absence of specifying a particular technology used to conduct an event. To this extent, at least, we should not give up on our day jobs (just yet) and  only refer to cybercrime as the only identifier to be used; continuing to identify a particular technology is paramount and the science behind it.     

More background discussion:

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