Big Data, Big Crimes and the Cybercrime Ecosystem: differentiating between upstream and downstream cybercrimes to focus policing resources

Prof David Wall1

1Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, University Of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

Behind the expanding cyberthreat landscape is the expansion of a cybercrime ecosystem around data breaches. Whilst much attention and resources are being put into economic cybercrimes, relatively little is being put into resolving data breaches, which it is argued here, are the source of many economic cybercrimes. Data breaches are massive upstream keystone crimes which, once the data is subsequently processed and sold on to other offenders, ultimately feeds many more (usually economic) cybercrimes downstream. By separating upstream from downstream cybercrimes, investigative resources can be focused more effectively and with greater impact. This paper draws upon ongoing research into Cloud Cybercrime and Ransomware to map out the cybercrime (cyber-dependent) ecosystem. It will outline the difference between upstream and downstream crimes before using ransomware as a case study to map out the cybercrime ecosystem and the online offender communities which comprise it.


David S. Wall is a Criminologist who conducts interdisciplinary research into CyberCrimes in the Cloud, Ransomware, Policing Cybercrime, and Organised Cybercrime and Cybersecurity. He is currently researching the impact of Big Data Crimes upon the cybersecurity threat landscape and is modelling the cybercrime ecosystem for various research projects. He works with economists, psychologists, lawyers, computer scientists and software engineers on AI and ML as well as various agencies across Europe and their various practitioner and policy communities. David has been a member of various Governmental working groups on Cybercrime and more recently he has worked with the UNODC Expert Groups on various cybercrime initiatives. More information can be found at his www site at –


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