Interview with Thomas-Gabriel Rüdiger

Thomas-Gabriel Ruediger is a criminologist and expert on cybercrime

How does the threat in digital space differ from physical crime? How do you assess the threat posed by cybercrime to society as a whole?

There is hardly a form of crime – whereby I take our national law as a yardstick here – which does not also have an equivalence in the digital area.

Even murders that are carried out purely digitally are conceivable.

Digital murders – how so?

For example, an autonomous car or drone could be hacked and used against a human.

There is no such thing as purely “digital crime”?

But there are also very specific digital crimes – such as DDo’s attacks – so-called overload attacks. Or also in general the intrusion into foreign computer systems, which have no comparison in physical space.

As an expert on cybercrime, what topic is particularly close to your heart?

Personally, I think that the problem of cross-border interaction between all age groups in particular has been given far too little attention.

What do you mean by the “problem of cross-border interaction between all age groups”? What do I have to imagine?

By this I mean that most parents would look around if a strange man in the street or on the playground went to their own children and asked if they wanted to come home and play with him.

On the net, this is exactly what happens in all forms of social media – especially in online games – without there being any social debate about this fact.

It seems to be more important to be able to use all forms of social media, even if they are visited by children, without control mechanisms.

What do you think about the debate on media education in our schools?

One aspect puzzles me at the moment. We as a society say that it is imperative that children receive media education, which is illustrated by the corresponding debate on media education in schools. This is because otherwise they are not fit for the future labour market.

At the same time, the debate on how to make this digital space safe for children is – to put it nicely – absolutely restrained.

Not to mention the question of how this could be regulated internationally.

Your personal forecast for the future – is it positive or negative?

In the end, there is no real positive or negative situation in criminology.

We know that there can never be a society without crime or something similar.

This also applies to a digitised society. As a result, crime and the reactions to it continue to develop.

What seems undesirable to us today may be a matter of course and social consensus in 30 years’ time.

Nevertheless, it must be noted that the protective mechanisms always lag behind the development of crime.

However, this also means that there are victims who are unnecessarily victimised or groups who are particularly vulnerable.

Just as children are particularly at risk in the digital space today?

Yes, it seems important to me that society seriously discusses the current development processes and trends for the future and takes the appropriate steps to minimize the effects.

What do you recommend for network security?

One could be guided by the structure of road traffic. Means everyone should know the rules and parents must be role models for their children and pass them on to their children.

The rules could be deepened in educational institutions. Since every person is ready to break rules at any time, there should be a visible police patrol on the network – in analogy to road traffic. Unfortunately, laws that are not enforced have no effect.

Even Abraham Lincoln knew that “law without enforcement, just good advice” is.


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