Logo close icon

New research project to help prevent teenagers becoming involved in cybercrime

Professor Julia Davidson will lead research investigating the motivations behind juvenile cybercrime.

Prof Julia Davidson and Dr Mary Aiken at the launch of the Paladin Pathways in Cybercrime projectJulia Davidson, Professor of Criminology at Middlesex University, was today (11 April 2016) appointed to the Advisory Board of The Hague Justice Portal and the Peace, Justice and Security Foundation, which promote the pursuit of international peace, justice and security.

Her appointment coincides with her involvement in new research, funded by the Paladin Capital Group, to investigate the motivation behind juvenile cybercrime.

The research, ‘Young People and Pathways into Cybercrime’, will be led by Middlesex University (Professor Davidson and Research Fellow Dr Jeffrey DeMarco) and Hawaii Pacific University (Professor Mary Aiken, who is also a Research Fellow at Middlesex, and Professor Steve Chan) with colleagues from University College Dublin and supported by the European Cybercrime Centre.

The research will investigate what leads young people to cyber criminality in order to develop effective awareness, prevention, intervention, educational and mentoring strategies. Specifically it will explore the potential pathway from ‘cyber juvenile delinquency’ to lone cybercriminal to organised cybercrime.

Law enforcement report that young people, particularly IT-literate teenagers, are increasingly committing cybercrime offences ranging from money laundering for criminal gangs to high profile hacking. In 2015, for example, five suspects were arrested in connection with the investigation into a security breach at a UK telecoms company, all aged between 15 and 20 years old.

In a separate case, a 13-year-old British teenager who worked as a ‘hacker for hire’ was spared a prison sentence after having orchestrated cyberattacks targeting global institutions from his bedroom.

The international consortium of academics will report their findings and recommendations in September 2016, including a whitepaper to help shape governments’ policies on preventing juvenile cybercrime, inform educational awareness in schools and colleges and develop best practice for police across a range of cyber offences.

“There have been some recent cases involving young people perpetrating cybercrime either in isolation or as part of criminal networks, and when caught these young people often face very long prison sentences,” said Professor Davidson, who teaches on the new MSc Cybercrime and Digital Investigation degree at Middlesex.

“We know very little about what motivates young people to become involved in cybercrime. This research will inform the development of police, educational awareness programmes and police practice with young people in this emerging area.”

Photo (left-right): Fernando Ruiz Perez, Head of Operations Europol European Cybercrime Centre EC3; Dr Mary Aiken, Professor of Cyber Analytics, AIRS Hawaii Pacific University and Research Fellow at Middlesex University; Dr Julia Davidson, Professor of Criminology, School of Law, Middlesex University; Dr Philipp Amann, Senior Strategic Analyst Europol European Cybercrime Centre EC3; and Alex O Cinneide, ‚ÄéManaging Director and Head of Europe, Paladin Capital Group.

In this section

Back to top