Organized Cybercrime? How Cyberspace May Affect the Structure of Criminal Relationships

Posted: 10 Nov 2003

See all articles by Susan W. Brenner

Susan W. Brenner

University of Dayton - School of Law


This article speculates about how the organization of criminal activity may evolve in cyberspace. It begins by examining organized crime in the "real world"; after defining "organized crime," it considers the advantages organization offers for group criminality in the "real world."

The article then identifies the two models of organized criminal activity that have emerged in the "real world" - the "gang" model and the hierarchical American Mafia model - and explains why neither model is likely to establish itself in cyberspace. This portion of the article explains that both extant models evolved in response to empirical constraints that characterize activity in the "real world," constraints that are for the most part absent in cyberspace.

The article then considers how organized criminal activity may manifest itself in the cyberworld, drawing upon military analyses of netwar in so doing. It concludes that, as opposed to the fixed, hierarchical organizational models found in the "real world," criminal organization in the cyberworld will be transient, lateral and fluid, all of which can pose real challenges for law enforcement.

JEL Classification: K1, K3, K4

Suggested Citation

Brenner, Susan W., Organized Cybercrime? How Cyberspace May Affect the Structure of Criminal Relationships. Available at SSRN:

Susan W. Brenner (Contact Author)

University of Dayton - School of Law ( email )

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Dayton, OH 45469
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