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Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology presents cybercrime lecture

The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Georgia Southern University presents “The Social Structure of the Market for Stolen Data,” a lecture by Thomas J. Holt, Ph.D., associate professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University, Wednesday, March 6, at 6 p.m. in the Russell Union Ballroom.

As the Internet has become a key vehicle for retailers and consumers to purchase goods, manage finances, and share information cybercriminals have found ways to exploit and compromise various online resources to steal sensitive personal data and engage in fraud and identity theft. Some cybercriminals sell this information through online markets. A small body of research has begun to examine these markets, with a primary focus on the products sold and prospective profits.

Few studies, however, have considered the social relationships evident between participants in the market and the organizational hierarchies between buyers and sellers. There has been especially little focus on the complexity and division of labor between participants, coordination of roles within and across markets, and the general associations between buyers, sellers, and forum operators. In “The Social Structure for the Market for Stolen Data,” Holt examines these various questions using samples of threads from publicly accessible Russian and English online forums where individuals buy and sell financial information. The findings highlight the value of group participation and feedback in building a seller’s reputation, as well as the mutual associations and complex relationships necessary in order to generate the various services offered. The implications of this study for criminologists, sociologists, law enforcement, and information security researchers will also be discussed.

“Dr. Holt is a nationally recognized scholar on computer hacking, stolen data markets, and cybercrime in general,” said Adam Bossler, Ph.D., interim chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. “In addition to his impressive publication record, he has given numerous presentations to academics, practitioners and governmental entities, including the Department of Defense. It is an exciting opportunity for Georgia Southern students and faculty, local law enforcement officers, and the community at large to have someone of this caliber come to campus and talk to us about such an important problem that will continue to plague us into the future. Dr. Holt not only will talk about what stolen data markets look like, but steps that law enforcement and private citizens can take to address this issue and better protect themselves.”

The March 6 event is free and open to the public, and a question-and-answer session will follow the presentation. For more information, contact Adam Bossler at or 912-478-0199.

Holt received his Ph.D. in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Missouri Saint Louis in 2005 and has published extensively on hackers, malware, piracy, and various forms of cybercrime, including more than 35 peer-reviewed articles in journals such as Crime and  Delinquency, Deviant Behavior, the Journal of Criminal Justice, the International Journal of Cyber Criminology, and Social Science Computer Review. Holt coedited Corporate Hacking and Technology-Driven Crime with Bernadette Schell in 2011, edited Crime On-Line: Correlates, Causes and Context in 2010 and coauthored Digital Crime and Digital Terror, 2nd edition in 2010. He is a regular presenter at academic and professional conferences, including hacker conferences, across the United States.


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