Cyber crime book published by CCTA researchers

CCTA is delighted to announce the publication of The Psychology of Cybercrime by Dr Grainne Kirwan and Andrew Power.

The Psychology of Cybercrime is designed as a source for researchers and practitioners in the disciplines of criminology, cyberpsychology and forensic psychology, though it is also likely to be of significant interest to many who work in the field of information technology and other related disciplines. The Psychology of Cybercrime applies the theories of forensic psychology directly to cybercrime. Where research has been completed about a specific cybercrime, the key findings are presented with appropriate critical analysis. If there is limited psychological research about the specific cybercrime, the literature from similar offline crimes (such as in the case of terrorism) is examined and an exploration of how this literature can be applied to the online world is presented.

The Psychology of Cybercrime is not limited to documenting offenders and their behaviours. Consideration is given to the effects on victims, legal and governance issues, punishment and preventative measures. The chapters are organised to address specific categories of cybercrime and include case studies that provide examples to which the theory can be applied. Key definitions are provided and, as might be expected in a field as dynamic as cybercrime, suggestions for further research and areas for further development are proposed. In many cases, practical suggestions for methods of tackling the problems are discussed.

The text is divided into four sections. The first section provides the reader with a foundational review of the key disciplines. Chapter 1 sets the scene for remainder of the book by providing the contextual background to cybercrime. The nature of online crime or cybercrime and the ways in which society is responding to it is explored. The legal response to cybercrime is reviewed as is the field of online governance. Chapter 2 considers how forensic psychology can aid in the examination of cybercrime. The role of a forensic psychologist is discussed as is their current involvement in cybercrime, and how this involvement might be further expanded. Chapter 3 discusses the various theories of crime which form an important part of criminological literature. Different theories address the issue of crime at various levels, ranging from societal, through community and socialisation influence theories, to the most specific level, individual theories. The goal is to determine which theories are most suitable for further investigation and apply best to cybercriminal cases.

The second section identifies internet specific crimes, or offences that could not exist without the use of computers. Chapter 4 looks at the subject of hacking; the motivations of hackers, the value of psychological profiling in hacking cases, the punishment of hackers and the prevention of hacking attacks. Chapter 5 examines the phenomenon of malware, or malicious software. The distinctions between hackers and virus writers are considered as are the differing approaches to dealing with these distinct problems.

The third section discusses crimes that can occur without computers, but have become more prevalent or easier because of technology – crimes such as music, video and software piracy, child pornography and paedophilia, terrorism, identity theft and fraud. These chapters include a section identifying the similarities and differences between online and offline offenders in these categories. Chapter 6 deals with one of the most commonly experienced types of cybercrime; identity theft and fraud. Common types of online identity theft and fraud are examined as are the reasons why systems and individuals find themselves vulnerable to such attacks. Internet child pornography is considered in Chapter 7. This difficult and sensitive topic is gaining greater attention from society and the media, as parents and caregivers become more aware of the risks to their children and law enforcement agencies become more aware of the techniques and strategies used by offenders. Chapter 8 continues with the related area of child predation on the internet. The psychology of child predators is considered, including an overview of some of the main theories of paedophilic behaviour and an overview of the risk factors of online predation. Chapter 9 looks at cyberbullying and cyberstalking. Case studies are provided, along with definitions of both activities. Prevalence rates of the phenomena are provided, as are descriptions of some of the techniques used during cyberbullying and cyberstalking attacks. Chapter 10 deals with piracy, illegal file sharing and copyright infringement. Consideration is given to the whether those involved in piracy and online copyright infringement activities see themselves as criminals, as well as examining how offenders justify their actions and how they can be dissuaded from such acts. Chapter 11 deals with the subject of cyberterrorism. This is a subject that has gained considerable interest from both researchers and media. The psychology of terrorism is examined, including investigations of the personalities and psychiatric health of terrorists, and it will be examined as to whether or not the findings relating to traditional terrorists can also be applied to online terrorist activity.

The final section of the book considers crimes that take place within virtual worlds, such as the theft of virtual property, or an assault on a persons avatar. These chapters question the nature of these offences, and the suitability of real-life punishments for online offences. Chapter 12 deals with crimes that occur in online virtual worlds. Several cases are described and an attempt made to establish if these virtual crimes could or should be considered criminal events. The effects of the crimes on the victims will also be considered, and the necessity for policing virtual worlds will be discussed. Chapter 13 attempts to look at how governments and law makers are dealing with the question of cybercrime. As technology provides new ways for us to interact as citizens as well as consumers how will technology transform service delivery, governance and civic participation. If citizens as well as criminals are moving online how will the institutions of government move online?

Further information is available at

Story submitted by:

Dr Marion Palmer

06 February 2012