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Motivations for Cybercrimes

At the global level, it is on record that cybercrime is a growth industry. The returns are great, and the risks are low. It is estimated that the likely annual cost to the global economy from cybercrime is more than USD 40 Billion, which reached USD 12 Trillion in 2012. A conservative estimate would be USD 375 Billion in losses, while the maximum could be as much as USD 575 Billion (CSIS, 2014).

The cost of cybercrime includes the effect of hundreds of millions of people having their personal information stolen – incidents in the last year include more than 40 Million people in the US, 54 Million in Turkey, 20 Million in Korea, 16 Million in Germany, and more than 20 Million in China. One estimate puts the total at more than 800 Million individual records in 2013. This alone could cost as much as USD 160 Billion per year (Hawes, 2014).

All the foregoing figures as in number of victims and the staggering figures in term of economic losses, is a testimony to the almost insurmountable hurdle of cybercrime, to which mankind is faced and which challenge, must be addressed timeously.

Motivations for Cybercrime

Aside from the global financial loss as summarized in the foregoing paragraphs with respect to impact of cybercrimes, other consequences of cybercrimes includes but not limited to loss of intellectual property and sensitive data, opportunity costs, including service and employment disruptions, damage to the brand image and company reputation, penalties and compensatory payments to customers (for inconvenience or consequential loss), or contractual compensation (for delays, etc.), cost of countermeasures and insurance, cost of mitigation strategies and recovery from cyberattacks, the loss of trade and competitiveness, distortion of trade and job loss (Paganini, 2013).

Having previously brought to the fore, the impact of cybercrimes in terms of financial and economic effects as well as other consequences, the apposite question that would naturally agitate the mind of a discerning person is: what are the motivations of cybercriminals?

This germane question is briefly addressed as hereunder: The profit motive appears to be the first and major incentive that makes cybercriminals to persist in their nefarious activities of infiltration or unauthorized interference with computers and network systems; profits accruing to cybercriminals are indeed huge; from the account earlier on discussed before now regarding financial losses at the global level, these losses are profits to cyber criminals, hence, a serious motivation.

Closely related to the profit motive is the difficulty posed with respect to detection of cybercriminals; the Internet presents a wide range of freedom for all citizens of the world and the lack of prerequisite of identification as to who is doing what, in the use of the telecommunications via the cyberspace, continue to thwart global efforts targeted at tracking criminals and bringing them to book; stated in another way, the likelihood of identifying cybercriminals when they have perpetrated their illegal activities continue to be a motivation to them to persist in their criminal activities.

Competitors provides a boost to cybercriminal activities by sponsoring attacks on one another, either by way of espionage to steal critical information relating to trade secrets or paralysis of competitor‟s service through distributed denial of service (DDoS).

It should be added that some cybercriminals are motivated not for pecuniary advantage, but purely for satisfaction or pleasure they derive in gaining unauthorized access into computers and computer networks; the mere fact that cybercriminals are able to gain access into computer systems believed to be safe and secure by the owners and operators thereby revealing vulnerability gives the cybercriminals, under this head, the motivation. Finally, another variant of motivation for cybercriminals is a challenge or protest against computer systems which is the outward manifestation of registration of disagreement or disapproval against owners or operators, this form or motivation is also more often than not aimed at getting profit out cybercriminal activities.


Note: This is an excerpt of “Challenges to enforcement of cyber-crimes laws and policy” by E. F. G. Ajayi published in academicJournals under a creative commons attribution licence 4.0 International Lizenz

Autor: E.F.G. Ajayi


E.F.G. Ajayi (2016). Challenges to enforcement of cyber-crimes laws and policy In: academicJournals Available at:


cybercrime, motivations