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Crime Dot Com

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Crime Dot Com

From Viruses to Vote Rigging, How Hacking Went Global


15 min read
7 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

A detailed, nontechnical history of internet crime.

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Overview
  • Hot Topic


One cybersecurity firm predicts that worldwide losses to cybercrime will reach $10.5 trillion a year by 2025. In this fascinating, frightening overview, journalist Geoff White traces how cybercrime developed and how it has surged in recent decades. Online crime requires sophisticated technical skills, but relatively little effort. Viruses do most of the work. Crooks can access so many potential victims that even a tiny success rate pays off. In a highly readable and nontechnical narrative, White chronicles the development of hacker culture. He describes significant heists and scams, details innovations such as ransomware and online black markets, and shows how nation-states embrace hacking for spying, theft, sabotage and petty revenge.


Cybercrime has boomed recently.

Since 2014, hackers have carried out an online bank heist that netted more than $81 million, breached computers at Sony Pictures Entertainment and the Democratic National Committee, and launched cyberattacks against critical infrastructure in Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

At the root of the surge is a convergence of tactics from three groups:

  1. Organized crime – Cybercrime gangs traffic in stolen data such as credit card numbers, and run extortion schemes.
  2. Hacktivist movements – These groups obtain and release sensitive data and documents, sometimes to highlight perceived wrongdoing. Cybercrime gangs adapted hacktivist techniques for profit.
  3. State-sponsored hacking – Nations sponsor hacking teams for intelligence and military operations.

Hacking’s roots go back to the internet’s early years.

Between 1969 and the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1989, the internet was the province of people with skills in computer technology. “Hacker” then referred to anyone who “tinkered with technology.” Hackers congregated...

About the Author

Investigative journalist Geoff White covered technology for the BBC and Channel 4 News.

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