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Cyber experts win grant for major crime prevention project at UEL

Students studying at USS

Lead investigators will examine drivers of cyber crime

Academics from the University of East London are leading a Europe-wide investigation into the causes of cybercrime, supported by a prestigious £862,000 grant.

Professor Julia Davidson and Associate Professor Mary Aiken from the Royal Docks School of Business & Law at the University of East London are lead investigators in a consortium that has been awarded €5 million.

The project, called CC-DRIVER, will focus on understanding the drivers of cybercriminality, and new methods to prevent, investigate and mitigate cybercriminal behaviour. 

The EU Horizon 2020 project is led by Trilateral Research and involves 13 partners across eight European countries. Research takes place at the University of East London’s new Online Harms and Cyber Crime Unit (OHCCU). 

Professor Davidson said, “This presents a very exciting opportunity to explore the drivers of cybercriminality among young people on a large scale. Previous work has mostly focused on young people’s online experience generally and as victims – this project is unique in its focus on cyber offending prevention.”

This project will build on work already carried out by Professors Davidson and Aiken, whose recent research has included informing UK internet regulation through the Online Harms initiative (2020), and research entitled “Youth Pathways in Cybercrime,” for EC3, the European Cybercrime Centre which is part of Europol. 

Professor Aiken said, “Our research approach is transdisciplinary by design, incorporating the fields of law, computer science, cyberpsychology and criminology. Our aim is to investigate, identify, model and explain drivers of new forms of cybercriminality with a view to informing prevention and intervention strategies.

“We are delighted that our project has been awarded funding as it will greatly contribute to the development of prevention strategies and practice guidance, additionally it will strengthen the research field by informing theoretical models regarding cyber juvenile delinquency and criminality.” 

Professor Davidson said, “In 2016, the Europol Cybercrime Centre (EC3) asked Professor Aiken and me, as members of the Academic Advisory Network, to conduct research regarding hacking offences. We found that most of these young people are very bright with high IQs and advanced technology skills. However there were gaps in understanding consequences of this behaviour. The research informed EC3 awareness-raising activities including an EU campaign informing young people about the consequences of criminal hacking.”

Dr Mohammad Ali, Dean of the Royal Docks School of Business & Law at the University of East London, said, “This research shines a light into a dark corner of criminality that will be of concern to every parent.

“As part of the University’s Vision 2028, our research focuses on creating meaningful impact on society and this cutting-edge project delivers this for parents, for law enforcement and for public policy more widely.”

The CC-DRIVER project will underpin the work of the newly formed University of East London Online Harms and Cybercrime Unit and the recent University criminology focus on cybercrime, ensuring that undergraduate and post-graduate provision in this area is based upon cutting edge research conducted by world-leading researchers. 

With thanks to

Professor Julia Davidson and Associate Professor Mary Aiken would like to say thank you in particular to the following people and their organisations for supporting the project: Dr Philipp Amann Head of Strategy, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), Doug Witschi, Assistant Director, INTERPOL Cybercrime Threat Response, and Neil Walsh UNODC Chief of Cybercrime 

About Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly 80 billion euros of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020) in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It aims to fund more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.

About the CC-DRIVER project

The CC-DRIVER project – Understanding the drivers of cyber criminality, and new methods to prevent, investigate and mitigate cybercriminal behaviour – has received grant agreement No 883543 under the European Union’s H2020 research and innovation programme.