Cybercrime: The Industry of Anonymity

Speaker: Jonathan Lusthaus

Jonathan Lusthaus is Non-Stipendiary Research Fellow at Nuffield College, and Director of the Human Cybercriminal Project

An event in our Trinity Term Sociology Seminar Series The central theme of this seminar is that cybercrime has matured into a large profit-driven industry. Hobby hackers still exist and hacktivists have attracted some attention in recent years, but a very significant component of contemporary cybercrime is now financially motivated, sophisticated and organised. Drawing on findings from a book manuscript, the focus of this seminar is twofold. It seeks to briefly outline the development of the cybercrime industry and how it functions. It then addresses the puzzle of how this industry has developed when facing the challenges of anonymity, whereby actors must trust faceless criminal partners in order to collaborate. Based on six years of fieldwork, research was carried out in almost 20 countries, including the key cybercrime hotspots of: Russia, Ukraine, Romania, China and Nigeria. The talk draws on interviews with 200 former cybercriminals, law enforcement agents and those in the technology sector, along with alternative forms of data collected during this period such as legal records and archives of cybercriminal communications. It is qualitative and exploratory in nature.