My research interest centers around the goal of understanding the role of the Internet in criminal offending and is shaped primarily by witnessing the increasing role of technology and cyberspace in criminal and deviant behaviors. I have a strong interest in the relationships between online communities and individual-level online criminal and deviant behaviors. My current work involves three research areas that address the impacts of the Internet in various aspects of our everyday lives, with an emphasis online criminal and deviant behaviors. To effectively address such impacts, an informed understanding on the complexities of cybercrime is necessary. To do so, it is essential to understand how individuals become involved in cybercrime, and how social networks and structures of cybercriminals impact the evolution of their subcultural values, beliefs and behaviors, and countermeasures against cybercrime.
- The first area of research pertains to a framework on unintended harms of cybersecurity countermeasures. The aim is to develop the framework into a tool for stakeholders to identify cyber-physical and socio-technical implications of cybersecurity countermeasures. Current risk management approaches do not consider the potential harms cybersecurity countermeasures may have on user behaviors, the users and the infrastructures. The framework provides a systematic and holistic approach for addressing risks. Future works include expanding on the framework of unintended harms into workshops and programs through collaboration with stakeholders such as support services for intimate partner abuse victims. The framework was presented at the APWG eCrime Symposium 2019 and the paper won the best paper award.
- Second, I examine the role of gender in criminal opportunities and pathways into online criminal and deviant communities. A recent collaborative project with my colleagues examined the role of gender in criminal. The findings suggest a biased view of females as victims and commodities, as well as hacking as an idealized form of masculinity and was presented at the 2nd Conference on Human Factor in Cybercrime in the Netherlands.
- Third, I apply social network approaches to understand the structures and flow of resources within online communities, focusing online underground communities. My doctoral dissertation examines the impacts of participation in online far-right extremist groups on attitudinal changes. In my research, I applied social network analysis and integrated theories from criminology and political science to understand the process of attitudinal change within social networks. Findings suggested that online radicalization occurred at varying degrees in six of seven forums, with a general lowered level of expressed extremism in later years. The study also found strong support for active interactions with forum members and connectedness as predictors of radicalization, while suggesting that other mechanisms, such as self-radicalization and users’ prior beliefs, were also important. Findings from my study highlight the need to for theory integration, detailed measures of online peer association, and cross-platform comparisons (i.e. Telegram and Gab) to address the complex phenomenon of online radicalization.