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Online victimisation


Online grooming, exploitation and sexual abuse of children

Information and communication technologies (ICT) have created a new space in which children can both learn and play. It is a space of both opportunity and risk where they can develop but where they may also become the victims of crime or engage in illegal behaviour themselves.

ICT enables offenders to target children individually or collectively. Possible motives include personal gratification of the offender, often by way of sexual exploitation; making money; or enticing children to gain access to email or websites from which viruses may be launched or the security of the child's computer may be compromised.

ICT can also support criminal exploitation of children without the child being directly involved. For example, it may be used to facilitate access, storage, trade or possession of child pornography; to support information sharing among pedophile networks; and to assist with the organisation of illegal activities such as child prostitution. Such activities can be done in relative secrecy.

Cyberstalking and harassment

Cyberstalking is analogous to traditional forms of stalking in that it incorporates persistent behaviours that instil apprehension and fear. However, because by definition cyberstalking takes place in a 'virtual' environment, it draws our attention to what is distinct about the world of the internet and the way it incorporates dimensions never envisaged by those seeking to control behaviour though legislation.

Source: Ogilvie E 2000. The internet and cyberstalking, paper presented at the conference 'Stalking : criminal justice responses', 7-8 Dec 2000. (PDF 24kB)


In today's world, where computers and communications systems are linked, it can truly be said that "everything depends on software." It is bad enough that this has proven irresistably seductive to pranksters. The potential damage which can be inflicted on our infrastructure - systems such as air traffic control, power, telecommunications, and the like, by a malicious person sitting at a keyboard on the other side of the planet, is mindboggling. So significant, in fact, that considerable attention is being given around the world to its military applications.

Source: Grabosky P 1998. Crime and technology in the global village, paper presented at the Internet crime conference, 16-17 Feb 1998. (PDF 21kB)

Responses to cybercrime

The information superhighway does have benefits for law enforcement agencies. Although its potential has yet to be realized, the use of technology for general public relations, for the communication of basic information for crime prevention, and for the exchange of information in furtherance of criminal investigation may be expected to increase dramatically in years ahead. Already photographs displayed on the Internet have led to the arrest of fugitives. The activities of pornographers and software pirates (as well as innocent criminologists) may be traced effectively using information available on the Internet.

This raises the question about prevention of internet crime, and the extent to which the principles of terrestrial crime prevention may be applied in cyberspace. Opportunity reduction and target hardening, which have become key elements of situational crime prevention, would appear to be as applicable to information systems as to residential dwellings. Whether principles of developmental crime prevention will be similarly generalizable is open to question.

It does in any event appear that technological solutions will play a significant role in ensuring security and prosperity in cyberspace. Few would argue that computer security will be one of the growth industries of the next century. In addition to more rigorous management practices and the introduction of more sophisticated password and verification procedures, new technologies such as biometric security devices and anomaly detection computer software help alert users to system weaknesses and enhance the security of computer systems themselves.

Grabosky P 1998. Crime and technology in the global village, paper presented at the Internet crime conference, 16-17 Feb 1998

Unsolicited bulk email ('spam')

Traditionally, there were few controls on advertising conducted by mail and direct marketers inflicted a barrage of advertising material on unsuspecting, and often unwilling, recipients. The electronic equivalent, known as 'spam', entails the same idea carried out through the use of Email. Its future equivalents may be even more invasive with self-opening attachments which could carry viruses into the recipient's computer hard drive causing damage and loss.

Source: Smith R 2000. Deceptive and misleading on-line advertising and business practices, paper presented at the Communications research forum 2000, 4-5 Oct 2000

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