University of Bath

Participants wanted for research into the characteristics of cyber-dependent offenders

This research aims to identify whether cyber-dependent offenders have increased autism-like traits and to understand the motivations/pathways to offending.

Hands over a computer keyboard spelling password'
This research looks to understand motivations/pathways into crime in the hope that this can then be used to enable effective prevention and rehabilitation.

Approximately two million cybercrimes are committed in England and Wales each year (Office for National Statistics, 2016). This project is looking specifically at 'cyber-dependent' crimes. Cyber-dependent crimes (or 'pure' cyber crimes) are offences that can only be committed using a computer, computer networks or other forms of information communications technology (ICT). This is different from 'Cyber-enabled crimes' (such as fraud) which can be conducted on or offline.

Hacking, Pranking and Booting

Examples of a cyber-dependent crime include gaining unauthorised access into someone’s computer network, this can also be called 'hacking'; making, supplying or obtaining malware (viruses, spyware, botnets, Remote Access Trojans), this can also be called 'pranking'; or attempting to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with internet traffic from multiple sources, this can also be called a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack or 'booting'.

Cyber criminals

Little is known about the profiles of cyber-dependent offenders but increasing evidence from the National Crime Agency (2017) and high profile cases including Gary McKinnon (who hacked into the US military databases looking for information about UFO’s), have raised questions about the role of autism and autistic-like traits in cyber-dependent criminals.

Currently no information is available about the profiles of these individuals. We aim to gather information from both cyber dependent offenders and a comparison group of non-offenders to identify whether this offending group have increased autistic traits and to understand their motivations/pathways into crime. It is hoped this can then be used to enable effective prevention and rehabilitation.

Take part

We have an online survey that can be completed by people who have and have not committed cyber crimes. It is totally anonymous and confidential and takes about 20 minutes to complete. You must be aged 14 or older to take part.

Take the online survey