Friends of the Forensic Science Club, this week we present the paper “Analysis of Cybercrime on Social Media Platforms and Its Challenges”, by Almansoori, A.; Abdallah, S.; Alshamsi, M. and Salloum, S. A. (2021), in which authors carry out an analysis of crimes that have been committed in the last few years and that are closely related to the development of technologies, internet and social networks.  

Cyberspace has reached every part of the planet, and is like a universe accessible from every corner of the globe. 

Advances in cybersecurity, technology and methods to protect software, networks and data associated with computers, have managed to prevent millions of attacks from malicious individuals and, in general, cybercriminals. 

Shockingly, the greatest cybersecurity efforts do not completely prevent cyberattacks, and so the need to remain vigilant and protect against these activities has become increasingly important in recent years.

This may seem simple, but a factor that makes this task extremely difficult comes into play, which, moreover, is an unprecedented phenomenon: social networks. 

We can define them as a group of Internet applications that allow the creation and exchange of content generated by different users. LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat… help to build social relationships and online communities that can become very strong, which is considered a valuable asset for many purposes. 

They provide many novel opportunities for socializing and interacting with users that have redefined the previously known approach to information sharing: from publicly expressing opinions, to news circulation, to online business or advertising. All of this, due to the global presence of the Internet, allows content to reach as many parts of the world as possible. 

And, as good as this is, it has a dark and dangerous side: people become easy and obvious targets for cybercriminals through social networks. 

To safeguard the integrity and security of individuals, organizations are constantly increasing technology and security budgets so that these social networks can be protected in a way that seals the information available from them. 

This research aimed to understand the characteristics of the crimes being committed through the Internet and social networks, and to identify what kind of efforts the police should make to control them. What types of attacks and crimes are occurring? What are the demographics of the majority of offenders? 

Authors conducted an analysis of different social networking platforms focusing on threats and offenses, arriving at 574 observations. Each of these observations was identified with a person suspected of having committed any form of cybercrime on these social networks. Cases were counted from 2014 to 2018. 

Most crimes occurred in 2018, with 28.1% of the total; then 2015 with 20.1%. According to the data, there were 300 cases of fraud, 100 cases approximately of child pornography, and other statistically less relevant crimes, such as stalking or grooming. 

Most of the offenders were found to have prior criminal records. About 70% had a prior record for some crime, while 30% did not. 

As for the educational background of the suspects, they had little formal education, about 70% had only basic education, and 30% had graduated from some form of higher education. 

About 61% of the offenders came from very poor backgrounds, while those from middle and upper class constituted the remaining 39%. 

On the other hand, most offenders were between 20 and 25 years old, with a significant peak at 22 years old. 

Online social networking sites must identify the core aspects of human and social connectivity through accurate and robust methodologies that ensure privacy, protection and build trust between the platform and the user at all times. 

Governments, along with intelligence services, must be trained to adopt and frame the technologies. The amount of data flowing in social networks must be analyzed in a very rigorous way. 

Another important point is the awareness of the individual, as people must be responsible with the content they share and the social networks they use. 

Knowing the demographics of the majority of cybercriminals can be of great use to law enforcement, as they can then follow a basic guide as to where they should focus resources and investigations, thus helping to identify the individuals most likely to be the perpetrators of this type of crime. 

If you want to know more about the criminal mind, criminal profiling, and forensic science, don’t miss our Master of Science in Criminal Profiling or our Master of Science in Anti-Fraud Behavioral Analysis, 100% online programs that can be taken in Spanish or English, with special grants for the Forensic Science Club readers.