DISSERTATION – The human face of cybercrime: identifying targets, victims, and their coping mechanisms

(13-07-2020) On July 9, Lies De Kimpe successfully defended her dissertation from home!

Supervisors: Michel Walrave (MIOS, UAntwerpen) and Koen Ponnet (imec-mict, UGent)

Keywords: cybercrime, phishing, victimization, the weakest link, quantitative research

Cybercrime is a growing threat within the online environment. In order to tackle this issue, Lies De Kimpe focused her research on the so-called ‘weakest link’ in the cybersecurity chain, which is the individual internet user. In het dissertation “The human face of cybercrime: identifying targets, victims, and their coping mechanisms” she aimed to identify who is most at risk online and how cybercrime victims cope with an incident. “Not only inexperienced users, but also confident and/or frequent internet users are vulnerable online,” she states. “Moreover, our research indicates that cybercrime victims feel hesitant to share their experience with friends, family or official entities like the police.”


In recent years, an increasing number of internet users have been confronted with cybercrimes, such as phishing, hacking, online consumer fraud, or ransomware attacks. In search of ways to improve the safety of the internet and to better protect its users, the individual internet user has often been identified as the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain. Therefore, this doctoral thesis, aims to gain more insight in the role the human factor plays in understanding and preventing cybercrime. The aim of this research is twofold. First, it wants to improve our knowledge of the factors that can increase internet users’ online vulnerability (i.e., preventive perspective). These insights can help future initiatives to limit cybercrime victimization. Second, this thesis also pays attention to the way victims deal with an incident once it occurs (i.e., reactive perspective). This approach tells us more about how to limit the negative consequences of a cybercrime incident to a minimum.


More information (in Dutch)