Digital Predictions: Putting Cybercrime Victimization Theories to the Test

Caitlyn McGeer1
1University Of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

This study analyzes the validity of the leading theory explaining cyber victimization, Routine Activities Theory, as well as the two other theories gaining influence, the Big Five and E-Trust. The study seeks to develop upon prior research that tested the validity of these theories by assessing how they apply to cyber-victimization in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom Home Office defines cybercrime as either cyber- dependent (those different than offline crime) and cyber-enabled (those which brought offline crime online). Based on this distinction, using the 2014-2015 Crime Survey of England and Wales, the author used statistical analyses to test the validity of Routine Activities Theory, the Big Five, and E-Trust in relation to cyber-dependent and cyber-enabled victimization. The study found that Routine Activities Theory has modest applicability to cyber-dependent victimization and that only the theory’s guardianship variables related to cyber-enabled victimization. The Big Five variables were not related to either type of cyber-victimization, and E-Trust variables were only associated with cyber-dependent victimization. The control variables age, gender, and having children under the age of 16 were associated with cyber-dependent victimization, but only age was correlated to cyber-enabled. The author concludes that distinct differences exist between offline crime and cybercrime and that theories created the explain offline crimes do not adequately extend to cybercrime.

Caitlyn’s professional background centers on capacity building premised on securing welfare and rights protections. She is a strategic development and impact assessment specialist. Caitlyn has worked extensively on both local, national, and transnational-level projects, including ones in the UK, Canada, Guatemala, Ghana, and Ecuador. She has held senior management and front-line roles for a variety of non-governmental, governmental, and United Nations entities. Caitlyn currently leads on developing and implementing public sector monitoring and evaluation frameworks for a UK-based research company. Caitlyn’s doctoral research focuses on analyzing policing responses to modern slavery, focusing on the influence of Internet technologies therewithin.


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