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Overcoming the insider: reducing employee computer crime through situational crime prevention
Willison R., Siponen M. Communications of the ACM52 (9):133-137,2009.Type:Article
Date Reviewed: Nov 2 2009

Situational crime prevention (SCP) is a criminological theory, proposed by Ronald Clarke in the 1980s and developed over the last 30 years, that focuses on the crime event rather than the criminal. A number of highly effective crime prevention techniques in the physical world have been developed from this theory [1].

Willison is one of the few authors who have explored the potential of SCP in cyberspace. His and coauthor Siponen’s most recent article is the culmination of a number of his earlier papers that analyze how insiders commit computer-assisted crime. The Barings Bank collapse is a typical example. Willison and Siponen show that by looking at crime from an SCP perspective, information security methods can be applied more systematically.

The authors do not consider true cybercrime, but computer-assisted “old” crime. For example, Nick Leeson was able to commit his criminal activities for an extended period of time because of the lack of controls at Barings Bank. This is a classical problem at many institutions that existed before computers were invented. The connection with cybercrime lies in the fact that computerized information systems make it possible to commit crimes on an extended scale.

The authors’ focus on computer-assisted crime shows, on the one hand, that SCP can be applied to forms of cybercrime and, on the other hand, that much work is left to be done to extend the scope of SCP.

Reviewer:  Pieter Hartel Review #: CR137444 (1006-0637)
1) Center for Problem Oriented Policing, http://www.popcenter.org/ (10/15/2009).
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