Gen Z Internet Users “Normalize” Cybercrime – Report

A large proportion of young internet users are engaging in some form of cyber-related crimes, including money muling, digital piracy and posting hate speech, according to a major new EU-funded study.

The University of East London (UEL) research was financed by the bloc’s Horizon fund and undertaken in collaboration with Europol’s cybercrime center. It polled 8000 16 to 19-year-olds across the region about 20 types of online behavior.

Around half engaged in behavior considered to be criminal in most jurisdictions, according to The Guardian, which saw a copy of the report.

However, Spain (75%) was the country with the highest proportion of “cyber-deviancy” – a blend of criminal and risky behavior – with the UK coming bottom of nine countries at 58%.

A third (34%) said they participated in digital piracy, over a quarter (27%) admitted having trolled online and a fifth (22%) said they’d incited violence. Some 18% said they had visited illegal gaming marketplaces and 12% had been money mules – a serious offense.

“The research indicates that a large proportion of young people in the EU are engaging in some form of cybercrime, to such an extent that the conduct of low-level crimes online and online risk-taking has become almost normalized,” research co-author Julia Davidson told the paper.

As if to confirm the seriousness of the findings, Europol yesterday revealed a global police operation that resulted in the arrest of nearly 2500 suspected money mules and the interception of €17.5m ($18.4m) in criminal proceeds.

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