Cybercrime

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A wide range of computer security threats exists—including faulty software, password trafficking and fraud, and hostile groups intending to inflict damage—and awareness of these threats varies. RAND has conducted research to measure and increase understanding of the impact of cybercrime on businesses and governments and has addressed such issues as the pros and cons of counterattack, the value of deterrence and vigilance, and actions that can be taken in the face of cyberattack.

  • Illustration of online extremists by Jessica Arana/RAND Corporation from Sean Rayford/Alamy; dem10/Getty Images; sestovic/Getty Images; Dilok Klaisataporn/Getty Images; Comstock/Getty Images

    Report

    How Extremism Operates Online

    Apr 12, 2022

    Extremist groups use internet-based tools for financing, networking and coordination, recruitment and radicalization, inter- and intra-group knowledge transfer, and mobilization to action. How do internet users engage with these efforts? And can the internet be leveraged to counter extremism?

  • Blue and red cables transmitting data signals, image by Alexey Novikov/Adobe Stock

    Report

    Response Options to Cyberattacks on U.S. Government Networks

    Apr 29, 2022

    The United States has proved vulnerable to cyber incidents, and a lack of response has emboldened Russia and China to expand their cyber espionage activities. Have U.S. responses changed over time or affected adversary behavior? What lessons do these cases offer for future policymaking?

Explore Cybercrime

  • Girl Scouts compete in the Mission Ocean Challenge during the USS California Science Experience at Naval Surface Warfare Center, November 6, 2010

    Commentary

    Cybersecurity Badge: One Big Step for Girl Scouts, Potentially Giant Leap for Women

    The Girl Scouts will start offering 18 cybersecurity badges next year. In addition to exposing girls to cyber concepts and challenges, this could encourage them to pursue cybersecurity or other STEM careers in which women are underrepresented.

    Aug 3, 2017

  • Computer hacker working on laptop late at night in office

    Commentary

    Connect, Buy-Now, Fire: How the Dark Web Allows Criminals to Buy Weapons—Anonymously

    Despite its small size compared to the offline market, the ability of the dark web to anonymously arm individuals of all backgrounds needs to be taken seriously. Its potential impact on international security is significant.

    Jul 25, 2017

  • News Release

    News Release

    US Weapons Main Source of Illegal Arms Trade on the Dark Web

    The illegal sales on the dark web of firearms, weapons, explosives, and banned digital guides on homemade products present challenges for law enforcement agencies and national governments. Its potential to anonymously arm criminals and terrorists, as well as vulnerable and fixated individuals, is the most dangerous aspect.

    Jul 19, 2017

  • A laptop computer, a 9mm handgun, and bullets

    Report

    U.S. Weapons Are the Main Source of Illegal Arms on the Dark Web

    Sixty percent of weapons on sale on the dark web come from the United States. This illicit market for firearms, explosives, and ammunition can anonymously arm criminals, terrorists, and others.

    Jul 19, 2017

  • A man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him

    Report

    Could Stateless Attribution Promote International Cyber Accountability?

    The public may respond to government claims about who is behind a cyberattack with suspicion and confusion. Could an independent, global organization for cyber attribution help?

    Jun 2, 2017

  • A student in the Army's first Cyber Basic Officer Leader Course uses a field computer to probe for a targeted wireless network signal during a field training exercise at Fort Gordon, Georgia, February 1, 2017

    Commentary

    What Happens After ISIS Goes Underground

    As the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria suffers defeats on the battlefield, it is expanding its cyber presence to continue to encourage attacks abroad. The more the group relies on cyberspace, the more likely it will expose important segments of its organization to detection and disruption.

    May 30, 2017

  • A young man is frustrated by the WannaCry ransomware attack

    Commentary

    WannaCry Virus: A Lesson in Global Unpreparedness

    The WannaCry ransomware attack provides important lessons about how to secure cyber networks. History indicates that other attacks will follow. Preparedness is crucial.

    May 22, 2017

  • The 24-hour Operations Room inside GCHQ, Cheltenham, UK, November 17, 2015

    Commentary

    Five Eyes at 70: Where to from Here?

    The Five Eyes intelligence alliance of the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand began in the Cold War to meet the threat posed by the Soviet Union. Today, the nations' intelligence communities must contend with domestic terrorism and cyber threats while remaining ahead of Russia and China.

    Apr 21, 2017

  • A person typing on a computer keyboard in a dark room

    Commentary

    Are Terrorists Using Cryptocurrencies?

    As the U.S. Treasury Department and its partners have denied terrorists access to the international financial system, new digital currencies could become an attractive alternative. They could be used for money laundering or to pay the personnel and vendors that keep the terrorist machine running.

    Apr 21, 2017

  • World map

    Commentary

    Why It's So Hard to Stop a Cyberattack — and Even Harder to Fight Back

    Cyber weapons attack the underlying network or computer systems. The possibility of unexpected effects in the cyber world is therefore greater than in conventional warfare. Not knowing if the effects were intentional complicates the response.

    Mar 30, 2017

  • A coder types on laptop keyboard

    Commentary

    Reining in Internet Abuse

    The internet is being used for harmful, unethical, and illegal purposes. Examples include incitement and recruitment by terrorists, cyber bullying, and malicious fake news. Americans say they are unhappy with the tone of the online discourse, but are reluctant to consider potential remedies.

    Mar 23, 2017

  • News Release

    News Release

    RAND Study Examines 200 Real-World 'Zero-Day' Software Vulnerabilities

    Zero-day software vulnerabilities—security holes that developers haven't fixed or aren't aware of—can lurk undetected for years. They are useful in cyber operations and in defensive and academic settings. Whether to disclose or stockpile them is an ongoing debate.

    Mar 9, 2017

  • Composite image of binary code on a sunset over water

    Report

    The Life and Times of Zero-Day Software Vulnerabilities

    Zero-day software vulnerabilities—security holes that developers haven't fixed or aren't aware of—can lurk undetected for years. They are useful in cyber operations and in defensive and academic settings. Whether to disclose or stockpile them is an ongoing debate.

    Mar 8, 2017

  • U.S. Army soldiers take part in a multi-service exercise on cyber capabilities at Ford Gordon in Augusta, Georgia, June 10, 2014

    Testimony

    Effective Cyberdeterrence Takes More Than Offensive Capability

    A successful cyberdeterrence posture has many prerequisites. These include attributing attacks to the correct party, thresholds for what merits retaliation, credibility, and offensive capability. For the United States, capability is the least in doubt.

    Mar 1, 2017

  • Binary code bursts from phones held by a crowd of people with an overlay of glowing electronic numbers

    Commentary

    What Is the Adversary Likely to Do with the Clearance Records for 20 Million Americans?

    The state actor that hacked the Office of Personnel Management could use the stolen information to further its domestic control against dissidents, enhance its foreign intelligence, and improve its position in the global military and economic order.

    Jan 20, 2017

  • Report

    Report

    A Framework for Exploring Cybersecurity Policy Options

    RAND conducted two discovery games to explore possible solutions for improving cybersecurity, assess their implications, and develop an initial framework to support debate and inform decisions regarding cybersecurity policies and practices.

    Nov 23, 2016

  • Illustration of a digital world

    Commentary

    Where Next for the Digital Society?

    Digital technologies are omnipresent, both in terms of where we are and what we do. A digital society can bring about economic and societal gain, but there are many challenges that need to be addressed beyond the actual technologies.

    Oct 14, 2016

  • Report

    Report

    Thought Leadership programme 2016: Key Findings

    Key findings from the 2016 Thought Leadership Programme, convened by Corsham Institute in conjunction with RAND Europe and St George's House exploring opportunities and challenges created by digital technologies in society.

    Oct 13, 2016

  • Concept of leaky software, data pouring out of pipe

    Commentary

    Digital Theft: The New Normal

    Absolute data breach prevention is not possible, so knowing what people want when it happens is important. Consumers and corporations alike should accept this risk as a “when,” not an “if,” and prepare for it.

    Oct 10, 2016

  • TSA agents screen a passenger at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California, February 27, 2015

    Announcement

    RAND Chosen to Operate New Research Center for U.S. Department of Homeland Security

    A new center will conduct analyses and make recommendations to strengthen DHS across its missions to prevent terrorism and enhance security, secure and manage U.S. borders, enforce and administer immigration laws, safeguard and secure cyberspace, and strengthen national preparedness and resiliency.

    Oct 4, 2016