Modern society is defined by the internet: over a quarter of the world's population is wired into the net - and this number is growing every day. The internet is a source of information, communication, entertainment and education, and it is impossible for many of us to imagine a functioning world without it. Unfortunately however, as with most technological advances, the internet also has a dark side - and the evolution of the internet has been paralleled by an evolution in crime.
The advent of new internet technology has resulted in the corresponding advent of both new forms of crime, and new ways to commit old forms of crime. For instance, phenomena such as phishing, pharming, and the diffusion of viruses and worms were completely non-existent before the arrival of the internet, while long existing crimes such as fraud, theft, and even terrorism can now all be committed in new (and sometimes easier) ways in the cyber world. Due to its decentralized structure, users of the internet can enjoy high levels of anonymity, with little risk of being traced. Consequently, the internet is a magnet for all sorts of common criminals - after all, cybercrime is just a regular crime with an "online" or "computer" aspect.
In a recent survey conducted by Symantec Corporation, it was found that 65% of internet users had been a victim of some kind of cybercrime, including viruses and malware attacks, online scams, phishing attacks, hacking of social-networking profiles, credit card fraud and sexual predation. Cybercrime has become a more lucrative criminal industry then the illicit drugs trade, and generates over $US 100 billion dollars annually. There is no doubt - cybercrime is rife, and is spreading at an alarming rate.
UNICRI is working on the field of cybercrime to achieve a better understanding of the phenomenon, in order to formulate ad hoc prevention policies, develop security methodologies and techniques, and strengthen the capacities of the actors involved in investigating and prosecuting cybercrimes.