From Cybercrime to Cyborg Crime: Botnets as Hybrid Criminal Actor-Networks

TitleFrom Cybercrime to Cyborg Crime: Botnets as Hybrid Criminal Actor-Networks
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
Authorsvan der Wagen W., Pieters W.
JournalBritish journal of Criminology
Date PublishedMarch
KeywordsActor-Network Theory, agency, botnets, cybercrime, cyborg crime, technical mediation

Botnets, networks of infected computers controlled by a commander, increasingly play a role in a broad range of cybercrimes. Although often studied from technological perspectives, a criminological perspective could elucidate the organizational structure of botnets and how to counteract them. Botnets, however, pose new challenges for the rather anthropocentric theoretical repertoire of criminology, as they are neither fully human nor completely machine driven. We use Actor-Network Theory (ANT) to provide a symmetrical perspective on human and non-human agency in hybrid cybercriminal networks and analyze a botnet case from this perspective. We conclude that an ANT lens is particularly suitable for shedding light on the hybrid and intertwined offending, victimization and defending processes, leading to the new concept of ?cyborg crime'.