Newswise — BOONE—Dr. Cathy Marcum, an assistant professor in Appalachian State University’s Department of Government and Justice Studies, is the author of the book “Cyber Crime,” published by Wolters Kluwer. The book provides a history of cyber crime and case studies related to individuals’ use of technology to commit a crime. While the target audience is students enrolled in criminal justice, computer science or related disciplines, the book also is of value to law enforcement officials and the general public.
Marcum’s research interests include cyber crime and victimization. She said she wrote the book to give students and others a better perspective of how the criminal use of technology has evolved from the early crimes of breaching computer networks and stealing long distance telephone service to child pornography, phishing and malware scams, and more recently cyber terrorism, stalking and bullying.
“Cyber crime is a fairly new phenomenon and the Internet, in the grand scheme of things, and is a new phenomenon compared to other types of crime,” she said. “When we think of crime, most students and educators think of it as something physical that we can map off with the yellow crime tape that you see on crime shows. With the Internet, the crime easily can be global. I wanted to provide the historical context of cyber crime and how crimes can be committed online.”
All cyber crime doesn’t have to be sophisticated. Young people and college students still engage in piracy, by downloading music or movies without paying for them or logging into a person’s Facebook or email account as a joke, Marcum said. “They don’t really understand the repercussions of what they are doing,” she said.
That especially holds true for teenagers who might “sext,” emailing a nude or sexy image of themselves to a boyfriend. “If a minor girl sends an image to her 18-year-old boyfriend who then passes it on to his friends, then he has committed a federal child pornography crime,” Marcum said. “The way that youth are using technology and not really understanding how it can be a criminal enterprise is disturbing.”
Marcum said that naiveté is due in part to the current generation not knowing a time when technology wasn’t an integral part of their life. “They have no idea what it’s like not to be able to check their email constantly or text someone,” she said.
There is no typical profile of an Internet criminal, which also hinders efforts to arrest and prosecute those responsible for the crime. “They can be of any age and in any location,” Marcum said. “For certain crimes, such as hacking or phishing, we generally see college-age males with higher level IQs. But the digital pirate who is stealing songs off the Internet can be any age, any race. There is not a typical person to look for.”
Fighting cyber crime takes money, human resources and specialized training, Marcum said. When that occurs, there is a higher level of investigations and arrests. “But the problem is, small towns don’t have enough resources to focus on cyber crime. They are doing the best that they can, but it is generally the bigger cities that have the time and resources to investigate these crimes. Law enforcement officers tell me they need training going into the police academy and need follow-up training on a regular basis. Things change every day in terms of cyber crime.”
She thinks cyber stalking and cyber bullying will gain a greater focus by law enforcement in terms of punishing adults and juveniles and preventing the activities. “We have so many kids who are committing suicide as a result of bullying. I think that will soon have educational programs, such as the DARE program to fight drug use, to address cyber bullying,” she said.