New technology can work wonders for mankind and can seem more like magic and miracles than science and ingenuity. However, not every change resulting from evolving technology is necessarily a good one. According to Professor Mary Aiken, a leading forensic psychologist in the world of cybercrime, the psychology of criminal activity has changed drastically with the advent of the internet.
“There is a perception that nobody is in charge, and that’s because nobody is in charge,” says Aiken. Aiken’s work has led her to believe that the anonymity of committing crimes like hacking from a computer has created a spike in a new kind of anti-social behavior.
People will commit crimes, not for personal gain, but simply because they feel like it. They believe they will never be caught, working behind proxies and from other computers. It is difficult, even for governments, to track down the perpetrators of cybercrime, allowing them to commit crimes without risk of being punished. Crimes committed on a whim, suddenly and without planning, are more difficult to trace to a source because there is no pattern leading up to them.
Aiken believes that modern internet culture may be responsible for even more changes in cyber crime in the future. “What is the prognosis for a generation inured by the consumption of illegally downloadable music, videos, software, and games? What sort of criminal activities may this generation of virtual shoplifters progress to?” wonders Aiken. These major cultural shifts could mean a shuffling of behavioral norms signaling major changes in the ways forensic psychologists view criminals.
Aiken and her colleagues in the world of forensic psychology will not be the only ones exploring these concepts in the years to come. The newest run of CSI will be focused around forensic psychologists analyzing cybercrime. The shows main character will be based on Aiken and her time consulting for the FBI, Europol, and Scotland Yard.
Over the past few decades, cyber crime has developed into a $200 billion criminal enterprise. Spanning the globe, hackers can do everything from robbing banks to shutting off wireless heart monitors. It is crucial that forensic psychologists like Aiken continue to develop new ways of understanding the mindset of cyber criminals as technology grows and changes in the years to come.