Motive is one of the main themes that law enforcement must identify in order to prevent future crimes. Law enforcement utilizes the science of criminology to understand criminality and identify...

Motive is one of the main themes that law enforcement must identify in order to prevent future crimes. Law enforcement utilizes the science of criminology to understand criminality and identify potential criminals. Identify at least two criminology theories, and apply these theories to computer crimes and to the individuals' motives for using technology to further their crimes.

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boomer-sooner | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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The Rational Choice Theory is the re-imagined classical criminology theory.  The theory is traced to Cesare Beccaria, who utilized the influence of the economy to expand the classic theory.  In general, the theory states a criminal will act when the expected gain is greater than the potential loss, or getting caught.

The Rational Choice Theory (p.6) works well when applied to cybercrime.  The difficulty in tracing computer criminals greatly decreases the potential loss. Therefore, any gains are magnified.  Using computers to operate in anonymity draws cyber criminals to the use of computers as a tool.  Hackers have used computers to access many different systems, sometimes for financial gain, but other times for political statements going as far back as 1987.  The use of a tool to decrease potential loss has always been a part of crime.  One of the first and still popular tools is a mask to hide facial identity.  The computer is just a sophisticated mask.

Strain theory (p.29) focuses on the access to limited resources.  The theory suggests people have similar aspirations but do not have the same access to resources.  Crime is a result of trying to achieve success through alternate means.  When applied to cybercrime, the theory helps to explain some of the non-financial hacking behavior.  The goal is not to increase the criminal's access to resources, but to limit another party's access.  The goal is still to equalize resource management.  In the increasingly technological world, computers offer everyone the same access to the internet but not the same access to sites.  A criminal can utilize a computer to balance the information or financial resources of the world.

Each criminology theory explains in part the actions of computer criminals in today's complicated environment.  The anonymity of the internet results in low expectation of loss and is explained by Rational Choice.  Strain theory explains the motivations of using computers to level the playing field of global operations by using a tool available to almost everyone.   

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