High Tech Offenders

648 words | 3 page(s)

There are many different theories that discuss the different motivations behind criminal behavior, though there is very little literature in regards to the explanations and theories behind cybercrime, and the high tech offenders that perpetuate the crimes. It is possible that new theories do not need to be generated in order to address these new forms of crimes, but rather, a practical look at the original theories will lend some clarity to the situation itself.

Of the different theories of criminal behavior, the three in particular that lend special weight to the concepts of the high tech criminal and cybercrime itself are social process theories, psychological theories, and social conflict theories; with cybercrime on the rise in today’s society, research into the application of these theories as they apply to high tech offenders is warranted (Wada, Longe, & Danquah, 2012). Out of these three separate and distinct groups of theories, while all are applicable, the social process theories are the ones that will be addressed.

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The social process theories of crime are divided into three distinct theories, the social control theory, social process theory and the labeling theory. The social learning theory states that criminal behavior is learned. The social control theory indicates that when society is weak people are more likely to engage in criminal activity than they are when society is strong. The labeling theory basically states that the act is criminal because someone else has said it was (Schmalleger, 2009).

The social control theory, based on the idea that criminal behavior is learned, is a key aspect of high tech crimes. Most cybercriminals do not start out that way, but rather, continue to acquire technical knowledge, and then start to try to apply that knowledge in different ways, working to see whether or not something they have coded has the possibility of running. In this way, it is a learned behavior, but it is not initially rooted in criminality, but rather in curiosity, and only after they see that the coding is possible do they start to look at other applications for the same coding, taking something that was not initially intended to be malicious and using it in a malicious manner.

The social control theory, stating that people are more likely to engage in criminal behavior when society is weak, is also applicable in this matter. It can easily be seen that cybercrime is on the rise, especially in the actions of groups such as Anonymous; essentially, they believe they see a weakness in the current way that society is running, a flaw, and they are using their knowledge as a means of working to exploit that weakness in order to attempt to bring those weaknesses to light.

Finally, the social labeling theory states that criminal behavior is criminal because someone said so; this too could be applied to cyber criminals like Anonymous, who do not see themselves as performing criminal acts, but rather as performing necessary functions in order to bring society back on the right track. They are taking the principles that have been discussed in dystopian literature for decades and applying them to the social construct; if, in doing so, the government sees it as a criminal action, it is not their fault that it is seen that way, but merely another aspect in regards to the process of correcting the current issues that are present.

There are many other theories of crime that may be applied to high tech criminals and cybercrime, including the conflict and pluralist perspectives of social conflict theories and the psychological theories of crime, however, the social process theories provide the quickest and easiest applications to the current situation itself.

  • Schmalleger, F. (2009). Criminology today: An integrative introduction. (5th ed.). Columbus, OH: Pearson.
  • Wada, F., Longe, O., & Danquah, P. (2012). ACTION SPEAKS LOUDER THAN WORDS – UNDERSTANDING CYBER CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR USING CRIMINOLOGICAL THEORIES. Journal Of Internet Banking & Commerce, 17(1), 1-12.

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