Prevention better than cure at keeping young users from getting involved in cybercrime

 Eyeglasses  Credit: Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash

Highly-targeted messaging campaigns from law enforcement can be surprisingly effective at dissuading young gamers from getting involved in cybercrime, a new study has suggested.

The study, by researchers from the University of Cambridge and University of Strathclyde, looked at four different types of law enforcement interventions, the first evaluation of the their effectiveness for this particular type of cybercrime.

They found that while high-profile arrests and sentencing of cybercriminals only lead to a short drop in the number of attacks taking place, the takedown of infrastructure and targeted messaging campaigns were strongly associated with a sharper and longer-term reduction in attack numbers. The results were due to be presented yesterday (21 October) at the ACM Internet Measurement Conference in Amsterdam.

For just a few dollars, almost anyone can become involved in cybercrime through the use of ‘booter’ service websites, where users can purchase targeted denial of service (DoS) attacks. A DoS attack generates large amounts of traffic which overwhelm end users or web services, taking them offline.

DoS attacks have been used in the past as a protest tactic, but because of booter services and the relative ease of using them, they are commonly used by users of gaming sites, as a form of retaliation against other users – the largest booter provider carries out between 30,000 and 50,000 such attacks every day.

While DoS attacks are usually targeted at a specific end users, they can often cause collateral damage, knocking out other users or systems.

“Law enforcement are concerned that DoS attacks purchased from a booter site might be like a ‘gateway drug’ to more serious cybercrime,” said Ben Collier from Cambridge’s Department of Computer Science & Technology, the paper’s first author. “A big problem is that there is still relatively little evidence as to what best practice looks like for tackling cybercrime.”

“Even people running booter services think that booting is lame,” said Dr Daniel Thomas from Strathclyde’s Department of Computer and Information Sciences. “This makes the market particularly vulnerable to disruption.”

Read the full story

Image:  Eyeglasses

Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge


The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

University of Cambridge (