Understanding the Relationship Between Cybercrime and Human Behavior Through Criminological Theories and Social Networking Sites

Understanding the Relationship Between Cybercrime and Human Behavior Through Criminological Theories and Social Networking Sites

Anne-Marie Mohammed (The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago), Vladlena Benson (Aston Business School, UK) and George Saridakis (University of Kent, UK)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9715-5.ch066
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This article seeks to gain a better understanding of how to address some of the challenges in the digital world. In order to do this, the authors presented some of the emerging issues in the psychology of human behavior and the ever changing nature of cyber threats in the digital world. They reviewed both the theories of crime (i.e., self-control and rational choice theories) and the empirical studies that have examined user behavior on social networking sites leading to victimization. Importantly, they mentioned the role of social engineering as the entry point of many of these sophisticated attacks. They went on to examine the relevance of the human element as the starting point of implementing cyber security programs in organizations as well as securing individual online behavior. Furthermore, issues that are associated with the emerging trends in human behavior research as well as ethics were also discussed. They acknowledge that much more academic attention is needed in this area to avoid the exponential growth of future information breaches.
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Social networking sites (SNS) are, “applications that enable users to connect by creating personal information profiles, inviting friends and colleagues to have access to those profiles, and sending e-mails and instant messages between each other” (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010:63). Any type of information such as blogs, photos, videos and audio files can exist within these personal information profiles. Therefore, SNS can be viewed as virtual communities that enable on-demand communication and interaction with real-life friends as well as the ability to meet new friends from around the world based on similar interest (Kuss and Griffiths, 2011). The rapid growth in usage of SNS worldwide in recent years, permits its description as a ‘global consumer phenomenon’ (Kuss and Griffiths, 2011). While there are great advantages for the use of SNS, one research by Kuss and Griffiths (2017) suggests that constant usage can create the perception of a need to be online. This may result in compulsive and excessive use of SNS and in some cases give rise to symptoms associated with substance-related addiction. This excessive use of SNS can reduce the productivity of users as well as increase their exposure to cyberattacks. On the other hand, a recent study by Allcott et al. (2019), explores the welfare effects of SNS and discovers that the majority of their sample value access to SNS for four weeks at US $100 or more. Therefore, this valuation suggests that consumer surplus for SNS is expected to be in the billions of dollars considering the large number of active users globally. According to Pew Research Center (2018), Facebook and YouTube are the most popular SNS among adults whereas Snapchat and Instagram are the most popular among young adults. Facebook is by far the most popular social networking site globally with 1.52 billion active daily users and 2.32 billion active monthly users (Facebook, 2018).

SNS have become the mainstream communication medium for individuals, especially young people (Holt and Bossler, 2014), and businesses (Culnan et al., 2010). At present there are approximately 4.17 billion internet users worldwide, thus demonstrating a sustained growth from the year 2015 by a quarter. Of these, 3.4 billion are active social media users with a similar proportion of mobile internet users (3.7 billion) according to Statista (2018). However, with the continuous loss of control over personal information that is exposed online, individuals and businesses present easy targets for non-technical attacks ranging from spear-fishing to whaling leading to serious cyber victimization (McAlaney et al., 2018). Cybersecurity professionals agree that this security depends on people more than on technical controls and countermeasures. Recent reviews of cyber security express that no industry sector is invulnerable to cyber-attacks and that the public sector tops the list for targeted security incidents (Benson, 2017). This is largely attributed to the weaker cyber security mind-set of employees. On the other hand, the financial sector, year on year, experiences the highest volume of cyber breaches. These are predominantly aimed at financial gain or espionage. What is common among these rather different sectors is that the attack vector by cyber criminals starts with social engineering. The weakest link in the security chain is still the human element. Irrespective of the market segment, the losses contributing to the current global cost of cybercrime are huge with an estimation of approximately $600 billion (McAffee, 2018).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cyberattack: A cyberattack is a malicious and deliberate attempt by an individual or organization to breach the information system of another individual or organization.

Cyber Security Skills: Cyber security skills are those skills associated with ensuring the security of information technology (IT-generally referring to information storage and integrity) and operational technology (OT-referring to systems that control physical devices).

Cyber-Victimization: Cyber-victimization refers to the process in which others are victimized through the use of information and communication technologies.

Cybercrime: A cybercrime is any criminal activity that involves a computer a networked device or a network.

Risky Online Behavior: A risky online behavior is an action that can potentially leave one exposed to a variety of dangers, putting individual and possibly organizational internet security at risk.

Social Network: A social network is an online communication platform that is used for creating relationships with other people who share an interest, background or real relationship.

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