Inefficiency in Cybercrime Investigation

Inefficiency in Cybercrime Investigation

The 21st century has steered a high level of technosocial transformation. An abstemiously new event has developed that is evident via crimes that were formerly not administered against by agencies of law enforcement and unknown. Leaving possible crime victims at the risk of elusive, immediate victimization and exploitation. This event can be perceived as a crime subdivision regarded as online crimes or cybercrime. Cybercrime happens in cyber-setting and it is perpetrated using any kind of cyber technology devices including credit-card machines, smartphones, telephones, and computers. It refers to any criminal activity where computers or the internet act as the basic way to commit an offense. Cybercrime extends from cyber stalking, cyber pornography, hacking, and identity theft (Dlamini et al., 2019).

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Cybercrimes Investigation Challenges

 Cybercrime remains to be a detrimental issue in the world and continues to advance in sophistication and nature. Technological and innovative advancements focused on moving the globe towards a digital era increase cybercrime risks. Concurrently, as cybercrime risk increases so does the challenge to address it. In most cases, cybercrime policing is commonly an afterthought for various individuals and organizations. This form of crime contains no international, national, or regional boundaries, different from ‘traditional crimes’ that contain physical limits and boundaries in association with jurisdiction. This adds to the challenges of combating, investigating, and detecting it (Dlamini et al., 2019).  The widespread application of technology and the growing internet connectivity rates around the world, together with the progressive new technologies developments that permit internet anonymity, have made cybercrime a high-yield, low-risk venture for a different range of non-state and state actors. Disappointingly, law enforcement is struggling to keep up with the progressive growth of cybercrime, yielding a significant gap in global cybercrime enforcement that permits cybercriminals to function with near liberty ().   

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Nations around the world continue struggling with the cybercrime onslaught that affects their businesses, citizens, civil society, and government institutions. Several instances include the Bangladesh central bank heist in 2016 which reportedly lost around $101 million to cyber criminals, the ransomware attack in SamSam in 2018 that paralyzed Atlanta city, USA among other U.S. government businesses and entities and the 2017 ransomware attack in WannCry. Although cross-national cybercrime statistics are hard to asses, cybercrime seems to be progressively pervasive with the attacks cost increasing exponentially. According to (Peters & Jordan, 2020), McAfee approximates the cybercrime global cost to have increased from $500 billion recorded in 2014 to about $600 billion recorded in 2017. This was around 0.8% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). Accenture, the professional services company evaluates that cybercrime may cost $5.2 trillion to the private sector over the following five years. The amount lost via cybercrime is over the loss recorded in the global black market. It is also approximated that cybercrime-related economic loss will be higher than all losses recorded from white-collar crimes in the future (Dlamini et al., 2019).

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Unlike traditional crimes, cybercrime presents different or new challenges that the police force is yet to overcome. According to Nouh et al. (2019), by nature, cybercrimes are borderless and therefore, they are numerous jurisdiction and legal issues associated with investigating them. In traditional crimes, the perpetrator contains a physical connection to the crime scene that makes detention and investigation easier. Nevertheless, in cybercrimes, things are different. The perpetrator might be in a different country, state, or region from the victim. This creates the need for cooperation among various agencies to solve a crime. There are other issues such as the miscategorization of cybercrimes offenses in the different crime reporting systems. This yields inconsistencies in the level of the detail gathered from victims that characteristically rely on the cyber-experience level of the respondent in the crime-fighting department, preparing the report, and how technologically aware a victim may be. There are also chances of reporting to the wrong department causing unnecessary delays in solving the issue. Additionally, police departments lack structured techniques to gather essential cyber-associated information. This contains multiple effects on the process of investigation including missing some links between possibly associated victim reports. Generally, most officers lack the knowledge needed to handle cybercrime-associated reports.

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The comparatively faceless and anonymous cybercrime nature complicates problems related to cybercrime reporting and victimology. According to Nouh et al. (2019), there exists extensive misapprehension among communities regarding cybercrime nature and law enforcement’s capacity to apprehend offenders. Various factors influence the cybercrimes’ low proportion of acts that are reported to the police. There are high instances of underreporting as the public lack confidence in the police’s ability to investigate cybercrime criminal. Also, there is extensive credence that law enforcement agencies are intrusive and inflexible. Victims are unsure that the prosecutor will accept their case, and if they do, they fear they will broadcast the case extensively to elevation the profile of the department concern or the prosecutor, without due consideration to the effect the victim may suffer due to this publicity. Also, most victims are reluctant to report due to the belief or misconception that the incident of cybercrime is just not serious enough to permit police attention. Reporting of cybercrime is also threatened by a lack of awareness of reporting mechanisms. Perpetrators’ and victims’ identification in cybercrime can be a highly complex issue, and the victims’ disinclination to speak up considerably impairs the police’s capacity to respond. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) extensive underreporting shows that new laws might be needed to force them to report suspicious activity within their network (Nouh et al., 2019). 

Another major challenge experienced by law enforcement in cybercrime is the lack of centralized intelligence-sharing coordination between agencies and forces working on cybercrimes. This contains multiple implications which include the production of incorrect intelligence products due to a lack of the big picture and lack of full information on similar crimes reported in various regions simultaneously. Also, there is no communication between various local forces yielding to missing probable links between variously reported cybercrimes. This increases the challenge of determining connections between cases. Also, following up on particular cases of cybercrime and offer status updates either to the media or the victim when requested is hard due to the absence of information sharing in a chase. This negatively impacts the image and reputation of police as it might make them appear incompetent in the public eye. Moreover, since cybercrimes are borderless, having improved data sharing, coordination, and communication between various forces and units will contain a positive impact on responding to and mitigating these crimes (Ajoy, 2022).

IT infrastructure and tools are other key challenges related to cybercrime investigation. The level of availability of IT infrastructure to police forces and the investigators’ cyber capabilities play an essential role in enhancing success in cybercrime investigations. The majority of police departments lack adequate IT tools and infrastructure to handle cybercrimes, an aspect that influences the quality and efficiency of doing investigations. Lack of essential IT tools and infrastructure results in spending a lot of investigation time performing manual tasks that could have been easily done using semi-automated or automated tools. Sometimes, investigation officers are required to assess terabytes of data from victim devices and server logs, which is considerably cumbersome. There is also a lack of state-designated systems and tools to be utilized in cyber investigation, making collaboration among various cybercrime units harder. In most cases, police forces are decentralized, as they are structured for traditional crimes. This structure makes every cybercrime unit a silo, working with a unique set of tools and processes, and hence incapable of interoperating. The interoperation problems exist also for the various tools utilized where most of the investigation time is used in manual formatting and modifying of data to be able to transfer it between various analytical tools. This means a lot of time is used to enhance compatibility rather than doing the actual investigation (Nouh et al., 2019).

The lack of technical abilities and skills is another major challenge faced by the police force in handling cybercrimes. Although the majority of those handling cybercrime issues are highly experienced investigators, they are not well positioned in modern cybercrime as they are in traditional crimes investigation. The majority of these investigators are well trained in investigation tactics and collecting intelligence, though they may not be well trained in handling crimes in the cyber world. Therefore, there are open questions regarding workers’ expertise and training. The evolving nature of cybercrimes based on technological advancement also demand that those handling these crimes should remain updated on new tactics, tools, and systems used to conduct these crimes. This call for a dedicated unit focusing just on cybercrime to be able to keep up with the dynamic nature of these crimes. This may not be easy to sustain across the globe (Wu et al., 2019).

The challenges presented by cybercrimes make it hard for police forces across the globe to get them right in addressing these crimes. However, all is not lost. Different literature has presented different ways in which to improve cybercrime’s investigation and prosecution process. One way to increase capabilities and win chances against the cybercrime battle is establishing special police departments purposed dedicated to handling cybercrime. The unit should be well trained to handle cybercrimes. Either individuals qualified for cyber forensics can be added to police training or police can be trained in cyber forensics. This will ensure that officers in this special unit have adequate knowledge and that they are well equipped to handle dynamics presented in this field. Examiners of digital evidence must contain specialized digital extraction methods training to generate a robust cybercrime ability in an agency. Although their skills will be needed for numerous criminal investigations, computer forensics is the basis for all cybercrime investigations. Thus, digital forensic investigators have to learn essential triaging skills to determine effective workflows and prioritize requests adequately (Brunner, 2020). The force should also be more open to new methods and technological innovations and improvement in organization contact management and problem-solving. Concerning training, there is a growing interest in cybercrime specialists’ game-based training. The main strength of this technique is that it permits realistic cybercrime simulation and the advancement of effective response strategies (Al-Dosari, 2020).

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The world is experiencing an increase in cybercrimes with an increase in technology use and advancement across the globe. More people are falling victim to cybercrime which results in huge individual and economic losses. Unfortunately, law enforcement agencies have not managed to upgrade their systems and operability to keep up with the new changes. The majority are still working with the traditional policing model that has physical jurisdiction limitations. Cybercrime has no physical boundaries and hence, it is hard to numb the perpetrator if there is no good national and international network of law enforcement agencies. Moreover, most of the offenders do it using public internet systems such as cyber-cafes, making it hard to trace the actual perpetrator, especially if the reporting is done as an afterthought. The complex nature of cybercrime makes it highly complicated to solve them, demanding that law enforcement agencies should adjust their system, incur extra costs in training their officers on digital forensics, and consider embracing a high level of collaboration to ensure an effective information sharing system. These agencies also need to invest in high-class IT infrastructure and tools to aid in overcoming big data issues that force them to go through millions of terabytes of information in search of cybercrime evidence. The officers involved in cybercrimes also need to be highly innovative and well informed of technological changes taking place in cybersecurity to be able to be updated in their crime-solving strategies, as the field is highly dynamic. All these combined may increase the cybercrime investigation efficiency.

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