Digital Dark Side: CrimeTech Is Powering a Vast Network of Cyber-Criminal Enterprises

Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Criminal Enforcement, Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, Financial Crime, Financial Fraud & Anti-Money Laundering, Risk Management, Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence

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Criminals are recruiting expert tech talent to enlarge their enterprises and are using emerging technology tools — automation, machine learning, and cryptocurrencies — as part of their growth strategies.

Criminals’ technological expertise has, in some cases, surpassed that found in law enforcement and financial services, and that’s fueling a cyber-crimewave in which cryptocurrencies are playing a growing role.

Cyber-dependent crime like ransomware and cyber extortion, online child sexual exploitation, identity theft, payment fraud, business email compromise, crypto-jacking, and the use of cryptocurrencies for illicit payments and money laundering, are all on the rise, according to Europol.


You can read more on how cyber-criminals are using the latest technology and talent to expand their criminal enterprises.


Cybercriminal enterprises are traditional organized crime syndicates remade for the cyber age, but they’re also freelancers and state actors, child pornographers, and opportunists. The only commonality among them is the use of technology as their primary tool to commit crimes.

The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute in Italy (UNICRI), Europol, and regulators like the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and the European Securities and Markets Authority have warned financial services firms to be on their guard against the increasing cyberthreat and expanding “vulnerability surfaces”.

“Looking forward, emerging technologies such as quantum computing, blockchain, robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are both expanding vulnerability surfaces and a domain in which public-private partnerships can flourish,” according to UNICRI, in Europol’s 2018 Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment. “Preparing for the dual (licit and illicit) use of these technologies and designing-in security and accountability mechanisms, as well as resilience to manipulation, will help maximize the benefits of such technologies while minimizing risks to citizens and governments alike.”

Financial services firms, already among the biggest spenders on cybersecurity, will be forced to revisit their defences in the face of this growing threat.