4 Truths About Cybercrime (and the research to back them up)

I was recently asked by someone involved in policymaking for a short bulleted reading list on cybercrime and how to understand the major issues since they didn’t come from a technical background. I started writing the email and then realized I might as well post it here so I can refer back and possibly update. This is massively simplified and is my short hot take if I’m given one minute to explain a problem to someone who doesn’t have a lot of time but has to act on issues related to cybercrime.

  1. When you experience cybercrime, the police probably can’t help you. If you think the cybersecurity staffing shortage is bad in industry and government, try your local sheriff. You are often required to report a crime to secure social help after being victimized, and that experience is rarely a positive one, especially for marginalized persons. The police in general will treat a report of a $250 purse theft differently than a report that $250 was phished from your bank account, even if you know precisely who did it. If you don’t know where the cybercrime was committed or originated from, the police will tell you that you can’t report it. In general they will refer you either to social services or tell you to report an online crime to the FBI (who generally won’t lift a finger for $250). This refusal to accept reports locally by the police and lack of action from the FBI makes these crimes invisible. There’s effectively nothing anyone can do if you’re a victim of cybercrime other than report you as a statistic. (If you need to, here’s where to report to the FBI). Here, read this. Also, advocate for clear jurisdiction over internet crime and fund the people investigating it.

Thanks for comments on this to @KendraSerra and to other distinguished colleagues unnamed here.

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Tarah Wheeler

New America Cybersecurity Policy Fellow, Principal Security Advisor at Red Queen Technologies, hacker, speaker, leader, incident response, author Women In Tech