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The Rational Choice Theory: Criminology By Frank Schmalleger

1885 words - 8 pages

Gone are the days of pick-pockets and traditional thieves stealing your money and wrist-watches right off of your body. The deviants of today are turning to a safer and easier alternative to gain access to your possessions – the internet. Rational choice theory as defined by Frank Schmalleger in his text Criminology is “a perspective that holds that criminality is the result of a conscious choice and predicts that individuals choose to commit crime when the benefits outweigh the costs of disobeying the law” (2014, p. 26). The internet decreases these costs and increases the convenience of committing a crime for anyone interested, compared to traditional in-person crimes. Anyone who can ...view middle of the document...

“Casual hacking is almost as established a part of teenage life as downloading music to an iPod” (Richet, 2013, p.56). Teenage hacking can be something as innocuous as hijacking someone’s e-mail, Facebook, or other social media account, or as nefarious as stealing money from online shopping retailers. Knowing that the chance they will be caught is negligible, it is easy for teens who would have never attempted other risky, illegal behaviors to give in to the temptation. “One in three teens have admitted to being tempted to try hacking or spying on the Internet to make money (with eventual transition to cyber-crime)” (Richet, 2013, p.56). Once a teenager is headed down the path of deviance and un-lawful behavior, it is easier for them to progress to more “traditional” crimes. Some teenagers are lucky enough to turn a passion of hacking into a career with the government or cyber-security industry. “A great number of hackers are self-taught prodigies and some organizations actually employ hackers as part of their information technology staff” (Richet, 2013, p.59). Unfortunately, hacking as a legal career path is not something that is relayed to today’s youth.
Data-breech news stories are common headlines, but not much is being done to prevent the next attack from happening. It is now so “cost-effective” to commit cyber-crimes that society has accepted these inconveniences as “an acceptable cost of operating in the digital age” (O’Neil, 2001, p. 28). Random internet shut-downs to prevent damage from the newest in e-mail borne viruses are just considered part of the day in many industries.
Attacks are becoming more and more common on traditional brick and mortar retailers as well. This past holiday season saw one of the worst cyber-attacks yet. Personal data from over 70 million people that had been collected at time of sale from credit keypads at Target stores had been stolen by a group of hackers out of Eastern Europe. This same group has been blamed for other similar attacks on stored retailer data. This one instance alone cost banks millions of dollars in replacement credit cards, customer service and credit monitoring to protect their customers from fraudulent charges. The information gathered by this group of hackers was later discovered to have been floated out on the internet in package deals to be bought up by other “black market” dealers who can use the stolen credit card and personal data to make purchases and create false identities.
Target’s data breech brought the risks of our connected and wired lifestyle back into the forefront. Society has gone from small towns with “mom and pop” stores that open up a line of credit in a book to everything being electronic, stored on plastic and out in cyberspace. If hackers anywhere in the world can attack retail stores and gather data on millions of Americans, it is possible that they can do the same to the government. “Cyber-attacks are not solely made against the government...

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