Why Is It So Difficult To Convict Cyber Criminals?

Hacking and ransomware cyber attacks and are now constant and these crimes are increasing. The current figures suggest that there has been earnings of $860bn from online criminal markets. But police and law enforcement often fail to bring these criminals to justice., even when suspects are caught, it is often rare for cases to result in convictions.

Currently for most police forces there is a lack of cyber sophistication. Also, most cyber crime originates from abroad, with China, Russia and the USA among the top offenders. Not only does this make it more difficult to identify hackers, it means the police can't apprehend them without appropriate authorisation, which is often very difficult.

It might be mutually beneficial for governments to work together to help reduce cyber crime, but that does not often happen. Most countries don’t like leaving their citizens at the mercy of foreign justice systems, and without extradition treaties in place, the authorities in other countries tend to be uncooperative. Another problem is that a good proportion of cyber crime is government sponsored.

Cyber criminals often go to great lengths to hide their identity and their location. As well as using online pseudonyms known as ‘handles’, they will often do business on the Dark Web, which makes it hard to track them. 

Cyber-crime is big business - Surrey University has estimated that in 2018 that the global criminal profit total was $1.5 trillion. With so much money to be made and so little chance of being caught, it’s easy to see how cyber-crime is likely to thrive in future. For businesses, that means protecting themselves is going to be ever more important. In addition to cybersecurity and disaster recovery technology, firms should also give consideration to cyber insurance, which can help to recover any financial losses incurred through breaches.

If cyber crime were a country, then it would have the 13th highest Gross Domestic Profit (GDP) in the world, according to the study commissioned by virtualisation-based security firm Bromium.

There are too many cybersecurity incidents and too little law enforcement resources available to keep up with the crime. To add more complexity to the issue, there are jurisdictional boundaries that prevent criminals from being prosecuted. Due to legislative changes such as the GDPR, law enforcement may be denied access to data or may only be able to access very limited data as part of a criminal investigation.

Increasing technological development and internet use also presents a challenge for law enforcement, resulting in extremely large amounts of data where it is difficult to distinguish a specific user.

For police there is a real problem hiring officers with the technical expertise needed for these complex investigations and this is becoming a major obstacle, however, things are beginning to change. Recently more than 800 criminals have been arrested by the FBI in an organised crime sting. This was done by the FBI using an encrypted data operation and agencies made arrests in 18 countries, including the USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

Surrey University:     CCRC:       Cipher:     TMB:     Computer Weekly:    ITPro

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