What Does Cybercriminal Mean?

A cybercriminal is an individual who commits cybercrimes, where he/she makes use of the computer either as a tool or as a target or as both.


Cybercriminals use computers in three broad ways:

  • Select computer as their target: These criminals attack other people’s computers to perform malicious activities, such as spreading viruses, data theft, identity theft, etc.
  • Uses computer as their weapon: They use the computer to carry out “conventional crime”, such as spam, fraud, illegal gambling, etc.
  • Uses computer as their accessory: They use the computer to save stolen or illegal data.

Techopedia Explains Cybercriminal

Cybercriminals often work in organized groups. Some cybercriminal roles are:

  • Programmers: Write code or programs used by cybercriminal organization
  • Distributors: Distribute and sell stolen data and goods from associated cybercriminals
  • IT experts: Maintain a cybercriminal organization’s IT infrastructure, such as servers, encryption technologies and databases
  • Hackers: Exploit systems, applications and network vulnerabilities
  • Fraudsters: Create and deploy schemes like spam and phishing
  • System hosts and providers: Host sites and servers that possess illegal contents
  • Cashiers: Provide account names to cybercriminals and control drop accounts
  • Money mules: Manage bank account wire transfers
  • Tellers: Transfer and launder illegal money via digital and foreign exchange methods
  • Leaders: Often connected to big bosses of large criminal organizations. Assemble and direct cybercriminal teams, and usually lack technical knowledge.

Clearly, there is much overlap between roles, but as cybercrime becomes a greater issue, more specialization is being seen as organized crime gets in the picture. For example, hackers were once more often than not hobbyists who broke into systems for personal gratification. While white-hat hacking hasn’t disappeared, it’s much more common now to see hackers as professionals who sell their services to the highest bidder.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.