Cybercrime Research: A Review of Research Themes, Frameworks, Methods, and Future Research Directions

Cybercrime Research: A Review of Research Themes, Frameworks, Methods, and Future Research Directions

Jonathan Nii Barnor (Business School, University of Ghana, Ghana) and Alfred A. Patterson (Business School, University of Ghana, Ghana)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2610-1.ch024


Technological advancements have transformed the way people go about their daily lives. However, this development is not without unintended consequences, as cyber-criminals have also devised ways to gain leverage. The authors conducted a literature review on 106 articles across 40 journals to bring to fore cybercrime studies that have been conducted according to the research themes, methodological approaches, level of analysis, geographical focus, and publication outlets. Themes identified in the review were categorized under an existing typology of cybercrime: cyber-trespass, cyber-deception/theft, cyber-pornography and obscenity, and cyber-violence. This review suggested two main directions for future research in terms of socio-technical and theoretical approaches with five research questions. The originality of this review stems from the fact that it is arguably one of the first reviews that have reviewed cybercrime from a holistic perspective.
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Computers and computer-related technologies have become essential tools that have significantly affected various aspects of personal and social lives, ranging from education, business, to cultural and leisure activities (Moon, McCluskey, & McCluskey, 2010). However, as technology continues to develop and evolve, so do new opportunities for criminal and undesirable behaviours (Bryant, 2008). One of such is cybercrime, which constitutes a spectrum of threats with increasingly significant impact on companies, individuals and public entities (Tapanainen & Lisein, 2017).

Issues of cybercrime have enjoyed a fair share of research conceivably because it is equally climbing into the categories of an ordinary day crime. Some of the scholarly works in this field include literature that underscores the need for laws, policies and regulatory frameworks to counter the cybercrime menace (Eboibi, 2017; Gerry & Moore, 2015; Hunton, 2011; Ju, Cho, Lee, & Ahn, 2016; Sun, Shih, & Hwang, 2015; Yilma, 2014), literature that highlight financial crimes and strategies to combatting these crimes. Such crimes may include, ICT aided banking crimes, digital currency crimes and credit card fraud (Bai & Koong, 2017; Bay, Cook, Grubisic, & Nikitkov, 2014; Bolimos & Choo, 2017; Hunton, 2012; Vahdati & Yasini, 2015). Some studies also place interest in stakeholders’ engagement in the fight against cybercrime (Levi & Leighton Williams, 2013; Martin & Rice, 2011; Tehrani, Manap, & Taji, 2013) and security awareness and prevention (McGee & Byington, 2013; Singleton, 2013; Vlachos, Minou, Assimakopouos, & Toska, 2011). It is however worth noting that though these literature and others not cited above possess insights in cybercrime, there exist some knowledge gaps which call for the need to conduct an extensive review in cybercrime. One of such is the gap in the theories and frameworks used in studying cybercrime (Boateng, Olumide, Isabalija, & Budu, 2011; Holt & Bossler, 2014; Jaishankar, 2008).

Regardless of the rapid interest in literature, there seems to be a lack of concentration to cybercrime literature in information systems research. Cybercrime research in information systems therefore needs a systematic approach to classify the various contribution of scholars in the field. To fill this gap, this review provides a cumulative meta-analysis of cybercrime from 2010 to 2018. This is geared towards taking stock to provide an understanding of the theories, frameworks and models used over the period. This review is also to provide an understanding of the level of analysis of the papers analysed, methodologies employed, geographical focus as well as trends across the years specified. This study further seeks to contribute to building systematic reviews of cybercrime research in information systems.

With this standpoint, this review serves as a trigger for cybercrime reviews in information systems. The object of this review is to improve understanding of the phenomenon in information systems research and also to provide direction for policy formulation and practice. This review will also provide pointers for future research that will kindle interest in cybercrime studies. In this regard, this review answers the following research questions:

  • 1)

    How has cybercrime been defined in literature?

  • 2)

    Which cybercrime issues and themes have been examined in research?

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