D2.4 Technological threats associated with the cybercrimes considered


This deliverable is one of the main outputs of task T2.3, which works as a link between WP1 and WP2. In WP1, the main human factors affecting the cybercrimes considered in the RAYUELA project (i.e., cyberbullying, online grooming, human trafficking, and misinformation) are analysed from different perspectives (e.g., psychological and sociological perspectives). Instead, the main goal of this deliverable is to analyze the role and impact of technology and technological threats on such cybercrimes. The methodology followed to achieve this goal involves both carrying out a systematic literature review and gathering information from the experts participating in the project working in Law Enforcement Agencies and education institutions from different areas in Europe. The deliverable is organized as follows. 

Section 2 introduces the context and motivation for the deliverable within the RAYUELA framework, together with the objectives and a summary of the content. 

In Section 3, we analysed the main cybercrimes affecting minors: cyberbullying, online grooming, human trafficking, and misinformation and the signs that may indicate their occurrence, as well as the possible adverse effects on the victim. 

Section 4 provides a quantitative picture of how European children and adolescents use the Internet and how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected these habits. In addition, we conducted an in-depth analysis of the role of technology (e.g., social networks, messaging applications) in the considered cybercrimes, embedded in an analysis of the modus operandi where appropriate. We also review proposals found in the literature to detect the cybercrimes using technological solutions and briefly discuss their usefulness in real-world cases. 

For Section 5, we conducted a survey of RAYUELA consortium members with first-hand experiences in these cybercrimes (law enforcement agencies and educational organizations). This section shows a summary and visualizations of their responses, which we consider relevant in this deliverable and an opportunity only multidisciplinary projects like RAYUELA can have. 

Finally, in Section 6, we discussed the role that technology and AI may play in improving the online experience of minors. We analyse their limitations and most relevant challenges found in the reviewed literature and provide our opinions as technology experts. This section also summarises the main takeaways that we consider pertinent for the design of the RAYUELA serious game. 

The central insight we can draw from this deliverable is establishing which technologies and social networks are used (and how) in the cybercrimes under consideration. In cases of cyberbullying and misinformation, these are committed entirely on social networks and messaging applications.

In online grooming, criminals target and contact the victim through social networks and gaming chats and then move the conversation to private chats and encrypted messaging applications. Human trafficking is more heterogeneous than the others, although similar to online grooming. The dissemination of sensitive material obtained by criminals is usually done through P2P networks and darknet forums. This analysis will have significant relevance when building the adventures of the RAYUELA game and will allow us to develop them coherently with real-world cases. 

We also consider highly relevant for the project or other deliverables the data shown at the beginning of Section 4, on the online habits of European minors, and in Section 5, where we collect valuable information from RAYUELA’s expert members regarding the use of technology in the cybercrimes considered. 

Regarding technology’s role in improving the online experience of minors, we are convinced that AI will play a key. However, some significant issues must be addressed to be a helpful tool in real-world cases, being ethical aspects of capital importance in this sense. This is discussed extensively in Section 6.