Today, crime and espionage look nothing like the cloak-and-dagger misdeeds of old spy movies. Individuals, companies and governments are all targets of sophisticated cybercrime. A problem that's unique to the digital age, cybercrime is constantly changing, providing a variety of research topic possibilities. Consider a handful of topics that take into account the different victims of such crimes.
Intellectual Property Theft
The electronic theft of intellectual property can damage the competitive advantage of a company. If a high-tech manufacturer has its network compromised and its proprietary designs stolen, it could lose ground to a competitor and suffer losses that are difficult to quantify. One area of research could focus on analyzing the potential loss in revenue of a company that is beaten to market by a competitor due to cyber theft. While a final dollar figure may be difficult to obtain, do your best by considering the hours and other resources that were invested in research and development, as well as the loss in potential sales of the product or service.
Networked lives open doors for electronic identity theft, a topic that gets regular media attention and has become a common concern for many individuals. Statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicate the magnitude of the problem. According to the FBI's website, between 2008 and 2013, the bureau's investigative efforts resulted in 1,600 convictions, $78.6 billion in restitutions, $4.6 billion in recoveries and $6.8 billion in fines. Consider a paper focusing on publicized identity theft cases over the past five years, noting the ways in which the crimes have become more sophisticated. How often do the most common forms of identify theft change? Does this confirm the perception that identify theft is a "smart" industry that's ever-evolving and difficult to defend against?
Students who were once regularly bullied only at school may now face constant bullying through cell phone texts, social media and other websites. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, when Cyberbullying includes stalking, a violent threat or an invasion of privacy, it is considered a crime and can be prosecuted. Your paper could focus on the increase in prosecuted cases or examine new laws that have been enacted as a result of cyberbullying.
Cybercrime does not only affect individuals and individual companies. Cyber attacks can cripple the private and public sector entities that rely on a country's infrastructure. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, cyberattacks on the electric grid system are becoming increasingly common and complex, yet preventative measures are difficult because of the number of players in the power sector, including state, local and federal governments as well as private companies. Your paper could examine the possible economic and other effects of a large-scale cyberattack on the U.S. power grid, or you could focus on new actions and proposals to prevent such an attack.
- McAfee: The Economic Impact of Cybercrime and Cyber Espionage
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: Identity Theft Overview
- StopBullying.gov: Report Cyberbullying
- Bipartisan Policy Center: BPC Releases New Recommendations for Protecting the Electrical Grid
- New York Times: Report Calls for Better Backstops to Protect Power Grid from Cyber Attacks; Matthew L. Wald
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