This brief focuses on cybercrime in an international context, exploring in particular why the United Nations is still trying to find its footing as an agenda-setting institution on countering cybercrime.

There is no internationally accepted definition of cybercrime. For the purposes of this brief, however, it is understood as a crime in which a computer is either the object of the crime – for example, through hacking, phishing or spamming – or in which a computer is used as a tool to commit an offence, such as child pornography or hate crimes.

Three types of crimes are often used to explain cybercrime: cyber-dependent offences,cyber-enabled offences and a specific crime type, such as online child sexual exploitation. Cyber-dependent crimes threaten the ‘confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems’; cyber-enabled crime refers to offences that also occur offline, but in which criminals may deploy technology to achieve their ends.

Because internet services are available globally, they provide a platform that can be taken advantage of. As information communication technology (ICT) rapidly develops, people are often unaware of the risks associated with such technology, including cybercrime. In the past, cybercrime was committed mainly by individuals or small groups but, in recent years, complex cybercriminal networks have brought together individuals from across the globe in real time to commit cybercrimes.

A guide to the UN cybercrime debate

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Author

Summer Walker

Summer Walker is a Senior Analyst and New York Representative at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. She has worked in New York and Berlin for international NGOs, development agencies and research institutes, and has published papers on drug policy, human trafficking, and organized crime. Prior to this, she worked at United Nations University in New York, running a drug policy project. Ms. Walker’s wider background is in human rights and development, and she explores the impacts of organized crime and associated responses in these areas.

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