Document Type



This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only


Computer Sciences

Publication Details

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of Technological University Dublin for the degree of M.Sc. in Computing (Forensics and Security)


Cybercrime incidence rates are increasing. In order to identify solutions to this problem, the sources of cybercrime need to be identified. This research attempted to identify a potential set of circumstances that create an environment in which people are more likely to engage in cybercrime. There are three aspects to this; (1) Behaviour on the internet – Are people more likely to engage in illicit activities online than in the physical world? (2) Crime Perceptions – Do people perceive cybercrime as being less serious than non-cybercrime? (3) Resources on the Internet – Are people aware of the types of free hacking resources that are available online? In order to address the first question, a review of the existing literature on the matter was carried out and conclusions drawn from it. The Online Disinhibition Effect is a key theory in this matter. Results from this review suggest that people are more likely to engage in illicit activities online than they are in the physical world. Addressing the second question was carried out in two stages. The first was an assessment of some of the free hacking resources that are available online such as tools and educational courses, based on predefined selection criteria. The content or function of these were established and they were rated across a number of factors. This information was fed into a survey to establish awareness of the existence of some of the tool functions, and opinions on course availability. The results from this research indicate that people are aware of the kind of functionality that is available from hacking tools online. The third question was addressed through another section of the survey in which participants were asked to rate the seriousness of 6 crime scenarios, three of which were cybercrimes, and three of which were non-cybercrimes. The same scenarios were used throughout the survey as participants were asked to determine appropriate sentences for each crime, and then judge the actual sentence that the crime was given. Results from this investigation indicate that people do view cybercrime as less serious than noncybercrimes. The results from these three streams of research indicate that they are combining to create an environment in which people more readily engage in cybercrime.