Internet Crime: How Vulnerable Are You? Do Gender, Social Influence and Education play a Role in Vulnerability?

Internet Crime: How Vulnerable Are You? Do Gender, Social Influence and Education play a Role in Vulnerability?

Tejaswini Herath (State University of New York, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-132-2.ch026
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It is estimated that over 1 billion people now have access to the Internet. This unprecedented access and use of Internet by individuals around the world, however, is accompanied by malicious and mischievous activities online. With the traditional crimes such as fraud, identity theft, and harassment now being committed with the use of the Internet, and networked home computers being exploited to carry out attacks such as denial of service, spamming, phishing and virus/worm propagation, it has become important to investigate security and privacy issues as they pertain to individual Internet users. To date very little is known about what characteristics of internet users affect their computing and on-line behaviors as they relate to security online. While some attention has been paid to understand the security issues affecting corporations, research investigating security issues as they relate to home users is still in infancy. Drawing from disciplines such as criminology, sociology, consumer fraud, and information security, this study seeks to find the role of computing skills and computer training, social influence, and gender on person’s vulnerability to Internet crimes. Our findings are significant and shed light in this important area of Internet crime contributing to the information security literature.
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Explosive growth in the use of the Internet around the globe has been noted by several surveys. The web statistics compiled by Internet World Stats (

Sparse yet some information security literature has focused on behavioral components of information security in an attempt to understand the security related behaviors of individuals (for example, (Hazari, 2005; Hu & Dinev, 2005; Sasse & Brostoff, 2001; Stanton et al., 2004; Stanton et al., 2005). While many of these studies have been conducted in organizational settings others have focused on behaviors pertaining only to the software use behaviors. Although, as discussed in detail later, we can draw valuable insights from these studies, many other online risks faced by individual internet users in home setting such as social engineering tactics or awareness issues were outside the scope of these studies. Drawing from disciplines such as criminology, sociology, consumer fraud, and information security, this paper lays a theoretical foundation to evaluate the role of computing skills and computer training, social influence, culture, individual values, age and gender on person’s vulnerability to online risks. We take the approach of understanding on-line risks and vulnerabilities and factors that relate to them. Such understanding will allow us to effectively design defense mechanisms to overcome these issues. Although, consumer fraud literature in marketing has used such approach, this approach is new to online risks and information security area.

This article is organized as follows. We first discuss various types of crimes committed on-line that affect individual citizens. Then we define vulnerability related to on-line activities based on distinct characteristics of each. Drawing from the disciplines of criminology, sociology and marketing (specifically consumer fraud literature in marketing), we present a theoretical model along with propositions to understand the role of computing skills and computer training, age and gender on person’s vulnerability to internet crimes.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Spyware: A software that gathers user information through the user’s Internet connection without his or her knowledge, usually for advertising purposes. Once installed, the spyware monitors user activities while on the Internet such as capture your keystrokes while typing the passwords, read and track your e-mail, record what sites you visit, record the credit card numbers; and transmits that information in the background to someone else.

Internet Crime (Cyber Crime): Internet crime consists of specific crimes dealing with computers and networks (such as hacking) and the facilitation of traditional crime through the use of computers (child pornography, hate crimes, telemarketing /Internet fraud). In addition to cyber crime, it may cover the use of computers by criminals for communication and document or data storage.

On-Line Victimization: Falling victim to internet crimes such as on-line harassment, computer intrusion, SPAM e-mail, internet fraud and identity theft.

Vulnerability to Internet Crimes: Weaknesses that may subject an internet user to become victim to an Internet Crime e.g. lack of awareness of current threats and system vulnerabilities, inability or delay in dealing with the system vulnerabilities. In this chapter the term vulnerability to Internet crime is defined as vulnerabilities related to on-line activities arising from various computing and internet activities, trusting tendencies as well as awareness issues related to on-line risks.

Victimology: The study of why certain people are victims of crime and how lifestyles affect the chances that a certain person will fall victim to a crime. This interdisciplinary field draws from a wide number of disciplines, including sociology, psychology, and criminology.

System Vulnerability (Vulnerability): Weakness in an information system, system security procedures, internal controls, or implementation that could be exploited.

Security: Policies, procedures, and technical measures used to prevent unauthorized access, alteration, theft, or physical damage to data or computer systems.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
John Walp
Manish Gupta, Raj Sharman
Chapter 1
C. Warren Axelrod
This chapter examines the impact of catastrophes on information security and suggests who might have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate... Sample PDF
Responsibilities and Liabilities with Respect to Catastrophes
Chapter 2
David Porter
This chapter discusses the latest developments in the shifting threat landscape and their impact on the world of information security. It describes... Sample PDF
The Complex New World of Information Security
Chapter 3
Ahmed Awad E. Ahmed
In recent years, many studies have highlighted the unprecedented growth in security threats from multiple and varied sources faced by corporate, as... Sample PDF
Employee Surveillance Based on Free Text Detection of Keystroke Dynamics
Chapter 4
Arunabha Mukhopadhyay, Samir Chatterjee, Debashis Saha, Ambuj Mahanti, Samir K. Sadhukhan
An online business organization spends millions of dollars on firewalls, anti-virus, intrusion detection systems, digital signature, and encryption... Sample PDF
E-Risk Insurance Product Design: A Copula Based Bayesian Belief Network Model
Chapter 5
Guoling Lao
E-commerce mode aggravates information asymmetry so that honesty-credit problems become more serious. This chapter discusses the honesty-credit... Sample PDF
E-Commerce Security and Honesty-Credit
Chapter 6
Zhixiong Zhang, Xinwen Zhang, Ravi Sandhu
This chapter addresses the problem that traditional role-base access control (RBAC) models do not scale up well for modeling security policies... Sample PDF
Towards a Scalable Role and Organization Based Access Control Model with Decentralized Security Administration
Chapter 7
Chandan Mazumdar
There has been an unprecedented thrust in employing Computers and Communication technologies in all walks of life. The systems enabled by... Sample PDF
Enterprise Information System Security: A Life-Cycle Approach
Chapter 8
Peter O. Orondo
Most companies would agree that securing their information assets is worth some investment. It is thus plausible to assume that low levels of IT... Sample PDF
An Alternative Model of Information Security Investment
Chapter 9
George O.M. Yee
The growth of the Internet is increasing the deployment of e-services in such areas as e-commerce, e-learning, and e-health. In parallel, the... Sample PDF
Avoiding Pitfalls in Policy-Based Privacy Management
Chapter 10
Supriya Singh
Enabling customers to influence the way they are represented in the bank’s databases, is one of the major personalization, responsiveness, and... Sample PDF
Privacy and Banking in Australia
Chapter 11
Madhusudhanan Chandrasekaran, Shambhu Upadhyaya
Phishing scams pose a serious threat to end-users and commercial institutions alike. E-mail continues to be the favorite vehicle to perpetrate such... Sample PDF
A Multistage Framework to Defend Against Phishing Attacks
Chapter 12
Ghita Kouadri Mostefaoui, Patrick Brézillon
In recent years, the security research community has been very active in proposing different techniques and algorithms to face the proliferating... Sample PDF
A New Approach to Reducing Social Engineering Impact
Chapter 13
Yang Wang
Privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs), which constitute a wide array of technical means for protecting users’ privacy, have gained considerable... Sample PDF
Privacy-Enhancing Technologies
Chapter 14
Douglas P. Twitchell
This chapter introduces and defines social engineering, a recognized threat to the security of information systems. It also introduces a taxonomy... Sample PDF
Social Engineering and its Countermeasures
Chapter 15
Tom S. Chan
Social networking has become one of the most popular applications on the Internet since the burst of the dot-com bubble. Apart from being a haven... Sample PDF
Social Networking Site: Opportunities and Security Challenges
Chapter 16
James W. Ragucci, Stefan A. Robila
Fraudulent e-mails, known as phishing attacks, have brought chaos across the digital world causing billions of dollars of damage. These attacks are... Sample PDF
Designing Antiphishing Education
Chapter 17
Serkan Ada
This chapter discusses the recent theories used in information security research studies. The chapter initially introduces the importance of the... Sample PDF
Theories Used in Information Security Research: Survey and Agenda
Chapter 18
Samuel Liles
Information assurance education is an interdisciplinary endeavor that only when taken as a holistic and inclusive educational activity can be... Sample PDF
Information Assurance and Security Curriculum Meeting the SIGITE Guidelines
Chapter 19
Gary Hinson
This chapter highlights the broad range of factors that are relevant to the design of information security awareness programs, primarily by... Sample PDF
Information Security Awareness
Chapter 20
Nick Pullman, Kevin Streff
Security training and awareness is often overlooked or not given sufficient focus in many organizations despite being a critical component of a... Sample PDF
Creating a Security Education, Training, and Awareness Program
Chapter 21
E. Kritzinger, S.H von Solms
This chapter introduces information security within the educational environments that utilize electronic resources. The education environment... Sample PDF
Information Security Within an E-Learning Environment
Chapter 22
Donald Murphy, Manish Gupta, H.R. Rao
We present five emerging areas in information security that are poised to bring the radical benefits to the information security practice and... Sample PDF
Research Notes on Emerging Areas of Conflict in Security
Chapter 23
C. Orhan Orgun
This chapter develops a linguistically robust encryption system, LunabeL, which converts a message into syntactically and semantically innocuous... Sample PDF
The Human Attack in Linguistic Steganography
Chapter 24
Sérgio Tenreiro de Magalhães, Kenneth Revett, Henrique M.D. Santos, Leonel Duarte dos Santos, André Oliveira, César Ariza
The traditional approach to security has been the use of passwords. They provide the system with a barrier to access what was quite safe in the... Sample PDF
Using Technology to Overcome the Password's Contradiction
Chapter 25
Antonio Cerone
Reducing the likelihood of human error in the use of interactive systems is increasingly important. Human errors could not only hinder the correct... Sample PDF
Formal Analysis of Security in Interactive Systems
Chapter 26
Tejaswini Herath
It is estimated that over 1 billion people now have access to the Internet. This unprecedented access and use of Internet by individuals around the... Sample PDF
Internet Crime: How Vulnerable Are You? Do Gender, Social Influence and Education play a Role in Vulnerability?
Chapter 27
Jarrod Trevathan
Shill bidding is where spurious bids are introduced into an auction to drive up the final price for the seller, thereby defrauding legitimate... Sample PDF
Detecting Shill Bidding in Online English Auctions
Chapter 28
Carsten Röcker, Carsten Magerkurth, Steve Hinske
In this chapter we present a novel concept for personalized privacy support on large public displays. In the first step, two formative evaluations... Sample PDF
Information Security at Large Public Displays
Chapter 29
Yuko Murayama, Carl Hauser, Natsuko Hikage, Basabi Chakraborty
The sense of security, identified with the Japanese term, Anshin, is identified as an important contributor to emotional trust. This viewpoint... Sample PDF
The Sense of Security and Trust
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