Rob Guerette’s experience in crime prevention and transnational crime is perfectly suited to tackling Iceland’s most pressing problem: cybercrime.
Guerette was invited by Akureyri University and the National Police Commissioner of Iceland Training and Professional Development Center to review the country’s approach to cybersecurity and critical infrastructure and help create the courses of continuing education at the university on the recognition and prevention of cybercrime. As a Fulbright Specialist, Guerrette will share his international expertise as a Crime Prevention Specialist and Scientist with law enforcement and academic staff. In 2016, Iceland abolished the police academy and made the training of all officer recruits at the university.
“Even in the study of crime, cybercrime is the newest frontier, and this project enables real-time learning to develop situational crime prevention. [methods] and a problem-based approach to policing, ”said Guerette, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs. “The Icelandic police and I will explore ways to apply evidence-based knowledge in the fight against cybercrime. . “
Although the country has a low rate of conventional crime, it has recently struggled with an increase in cyber crimes.
Iceland’s geographic isolation and harsh winters have created a cyber-dependent population with high levels of online engagement. Over a decade ago, as a very cyber-oriented, innovative and progressive country, the island nation gained notoriety when it became a stronghold of WikiLeaks, an international organization that publishes information leaks online. and classified media provided by anonymous sources. Its website was launched in Iceland.
Due to its cheap energy costs and cold climate, the country is also now a highly desirable location for the rapidly growing Bitcoin mining industry. When outside entrepreneurs bought the surplus of Iceland’s huge vacant warehouses to set up Bitcoin mining, an increase in the country’s energy use was noticeable; their tax revenues have doubled. Since Bitcoin mining requires enormous energy consumption, Iceland’s cold temperatures compensate for the heat generated, making its geography ideal for the concentration of industry.
As the Bitcoin mining industry grew, cybercrime increased.
“Often government and industry develop new systems without understanding how they might create new opportunities for crime. Then, as offenders become aware of these new vulnerabilities, a harvest of crime begins. Then the government and private security start working to identify and close the gaps, so that crimes are less likely to be committed, ”Guerette said. “This sequence of industrial / technical innovation – harvest of crimes – modernized security is also part of our history, from the creation of motor vehicles to ATMs, including cell phones. Applying established science-based and evidence-based crime prevention approaches enables a more effective response to these criminal harvests.
Using these crime prevention approaches helps police better understand the structures of opportunity in the physical and virtual spaces where cybercrime takes place, so that they can modify these physical and virtual environments to be less attractive to offenders. “This will be achieved through a collaborative effort made up of government and private industry, crime scientists and computer scientists, and good old school policing,” Guerette added.
Throughout his career, Guerette has developed practical approaches to prevent and reduce crime. “I have worked with other academics to apply prevention approaches in several studies, interacted with law enforcement agencies and facilitated reviews on crime prevention assessments while serving on the CrimeSolutions panel of the US Department of Justice. While criminal activity may vary, the theories and the underlying approach to responding to crime are remarkably universal, ”he said.
Guerette’s Fulbright Specialist Award allows him to continue studying the phenomena of international crime and this time he can stay in a country for more than a few days. He is due to leave for Iceland in September.