Massive technological innovations and digitization of a wide range of processes and services have taken place in almost all sectors from the manufacturing industry to the service provision sector. This implies that the world is already in a digital era. Technology is increasingly becoming synonymous with our daily activities and it is spreading rapidly. This is due to the efficacy of technology in facilitating almost all activities in individuals’ everyday lives.


However, technological innovations have also continued to facilitate criminal activities often referred to as cybercrime. According to Yar and Kevin (3) Cybercrime refers to all computer-based criminal activities such as hacking, spamming, child pornography and spreading hate among other criminal activities. Cybercriminals gain unauthorized access to businesses or individual’s information and use it to advance their malicious agenda such as political or financial gains.


Cybercrime is increasingly becoming an issue of concern with the U.S government through various agencies such as the FBI, CIA, and Homeland Security directing more efforts towards addressing this concern. This is because cybercrime is not only a threat to national security but it is also a threat to businesses and individuals. Therefore, the thrust of this paper is to analyze the impact of cybercrime on individuals’ lives from the lens of criminological perspectives. 


Cybercrime from the Criminological Perspective

 A wide range of disciplines has attempted to explain factors influencing criminal behaviors in society. These disciplines include; sociology, psychology, biology, and criminology. For instance, from a biological perspective, researchers have argued that criminals are often motivated to engage in criminal activities due to biological factors (Wikström, Per-Olof, and Kyle, 77). However, criminological perspectives take precedence in providing concise explanations particularly concerning cybercriminals. 


Criminological perspectives on cybercrime can be explained using a couple of theories. One of these theories is the Rational Choice Theory whereby experts in the field of criminology hold that cybercrime is likely to be committed in instances where the risk of committing the crime is outweighed by the benefits (Van der Wagen, et al. 581). For example, the financial gains of hacking a baking system are likely to precipitate the impending punishment. Criminologists have also used the Routine Activities Theory to explain the problem of cybercrime (Leukfeldt, et al. 265).


This theory holds that routine activities such as tech-savvy individuals are likely to discover weak network security systems or any other opportunity and become tempted to illegally penetrate the system. Thirdly, there are Strain Theories whereby cybercriminals' acts are often perpetuated by negative emotions such as anger towards a former employer (Ilievski, Aleksandar, and Igor 45). Lastly, cybercrime has also been found to be promoted by societal norms as explained by the Social control Theory (Leukfeldt, et al. 266). For instance, some individuals who are often referred to as deviants might be motivated to engage in criminals activities using a computer due to their deviancy. 

These criminological perspectives based on the identified theories are of great essence in understanding various cybercrime contexts that are increasingly becoming prevalent in today’s modern society. Criminologists can establish different types of cybercriminals and their underlying motivation factors when handling cybercriminal cases. Additionally, criminological perspectives can be used to inform strategies that individuals can employ to cushion them from cybercriminals. 

The Problem of Cybercrime in the U.S.

The problem of cybercrime in the U.S. has continued to persist and even getten more complex hence difficult to solve. Americans are increasingly facing ransomware attacks, crypto-jacking, and data breaches amongst other cyber-related criminal activities. This problem can be seen based on current trends concerning cybersecurity. In 2014, the federal government acknowledged the problem of cybercrime which led to the expansion of the FBI’s most-wanted list to include cybercriminals. Until 2018, there were 42 cyber criminals on the FBI’s watch list with Park Jin Hyok topping the list. Some of the cybercrimes associated with Park include; various ransomware that has affected tens of thousands of individuals in the U.S. and intrusion on Sony Pictures Entertainment (Holt, et al. 31).  


Malicious software or malware-targeted mobile devices is on the rise in the U.S. There are a varied of ransom wares, viruses, and spyware among other software targeted at individual mobile devices and personal computers to either extract data or corrupt data with malicious intentions. Study shows that in 2017 the number of computer malware in the U.S. increased by 54 percent, and another 27 percent of malicious software inform apps in the Lifestyle category hence exposing more individuals to cybercrime (Holt, et al. 35)


According to Van der Wagen (583), approximately 60 million American citizens have been victims of identity theft with 15 million individuals being affected in 2017. These massive data breaches were attributed to poor offline methods and low technology. Additionally, it is estimated that cybercriminals will steal more than 33 billion records by 2023 hence making the U.S. account for more than half of all data breaches in the world. 


The U.S. is the number one target of international cybercriminals followed by India and Japan. Therefore, this indicates that Americans are the most at-risk population in the world for cybercrimes. With evolving technologies such as the Internet of Things and Cryptocurrency, cybercrime is expected to grow due to the vulnerabilities accompanied by these technologies. A 2019 report on cybercrime indicates that this illegal enterprise generated more than $1.5 trillion in 2018 alone. Therefore, this shows that cybercrime is not only difficult to control but it is also expensive to contain with the U.S. government set to use more than $15 billion in cybersecurity. 

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The Impact of Cybercrime on Individuals' Lives

Cybercrime can impact the lives of individuals in the following ways:

  • First, cybercrime can be used to advance some individuals' political gains hence robbing members of society of their political voice. When elected political leaders do not represent the decision of the majority of voters it puts the country at risk of political instability which will lead to the disruption of normal activities in society. The disruption of daily activities implies that individuals will not be able to access essential services thus a threat to their well-being. This normally happens since the benefits accompanied by winning a political seat outweigh the punishment from a rational choice point of view. The U.S. is a classic example of the most recent infiltration of the electoral system by cybercriminals. This is following the statements issued by intelligence agencies in 2017 arguing that there is a possibility the cybercriminals infiltrated the Democratic National Committee (DNC) intending to influence presidential elections (Yar et al. 51). Therefore, individuals’ lives can be ruined through poor governance by ineffective leaders who do not represent the will of voters. 

  • Secondly, cybercrime can destroy individuals’ careers. This is likely to happen when individuals’ data such as data belonging to elite athletes the top corporate managers is maliciously used. The occurrence of this type of cyber-crimes has been explained by strain theories where former employees of a corporation may use data belonging to their former superiors or place of work for blackmail. This might be career-ending for the involved individuals. For instance, in 2016, hackers gained access to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s database and released testing data belonging to a couple of elite athletes (Yar et al 61). Gaining access to this kind of data in all sectors is career-threatening among individuals. 

  • Thirdly, cybercrimes can lead to individuals’ financial loss. Most of identity thefts, whereby hackers have gained unauthorized access to individuals’ critical information such as addresses, social security numbers, names, bank accounts or credit numbers, passwords, and phone numbers, are used for economic gains, particularly stealing money from the victims. A 2018 report on cybercrimes has established that cybercrime generated over $1.5 trillion in revenue (Shah, et al. 21). This is money stolen or coercively obtained from individuals and corporates. According to Shah, et al. (27) in 2016 hackers gained over 1 billion email accounts with most victims being American citizens. Some of these email accounts were linked to bank accounts. Financial loss is likely to drive individuals into debt and bankruptcy. Research indicates that financial loss is often accompanied by debilitating effects on both mental and physical health as well as social relationships (Burgard, et al. 190) Therefore, it is evident that cybercrimes leading to financial loss have the potential to negatively impact the overall well-being of individuals in society. 

  • Lastly, cybercrimes cause loss or manipulation of data which hinders individuals’ productivity. From the moment data has been manipulated, investigation and recovery processes are not only time-consuming but it is also energy-draining. The situation is even worse when data is completely lost or the malware soft used to manipulate data is highly complex. During this time all individual’s efforts and time are directed toward the recovery of lost data. This implies that individuals will be unable to carry out their daily activities hence detrimental to their activities.


After a cyber-attack directed at employees, particularly small businesses, there is a risk of loss of clients and eventually shut-down. According to Yar, et al. (81) 60 percent of small and medium businesses that suffer a cybercrime often go out of business within the next six months. Therefore, cybercrime leading to data loss or manipulation of data not only affects individuals but it will also affect organizations and businesses associated with these individuals. 


These are just a few examples of the impact of cybercrime on the lives of individuals not only in the U.S. but also in other parts of the world. With the rapid technological evolution and adoption of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things, cybercrime is anticipated to be more complex and difficult to contain. Therefore, individuals and organizations should take appropriate cybersecurity measures to ensure that the impact of cybercrime on individuals’ lives is limited. 



Rapid technological innovations have ushered the world into the digital era. Technology has led to the efficient provision of services and a generally improved quality of life. However, it has also been accompanied by other challenges, such as cybercrime. The problem of cybercrime has a negative impact on the lives of American citizens. Some of these problems include financial loss, threatening careers, and hindering individual productivity, among other problems.


The U.S. government is spending a substantial portion of the national revenue to solve the problem but cybercrime continues to flourish despite these efforts. Therefore, there is a need for multi-stakeholder collaboration to ensure that individuals are adequately cushioned from the severe impact of cybercrime. This involves observation of primary cybersecurity protocols. 

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