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A Mixed Methods Approach to Understanding Undergraduate Students' Victimization, Perceptions, and Reporting of Cybercrimes

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

A mixed methods study was conducted to understand undergraduate students’ victimization, perceptions, and reporting of cybercrimes. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 participants that provided the groundwork for questions that would be asked in an online survey. A total of 222 survey responses were collected from which four linear regression models were built to predict for perceptions (i.e. fear and concern) of cybercrimes, preventative measures that can mitigate cybercrime victimization, enabling behaviors that can lead to cybercrime victimization, and the likelihood of cybercrime reporting. The results of the models were that: (1) media exposure, cybercrime knowledge, and the harmfulness of cybercrimes were associated with cybercrime perceptions; (2) self-control was associated with preventative measures and enabling behaviors; and (3) cybercrime perceptions were associated with enabling behaviors and the likelihood of cybercrime reporting. Participants reported acquiring their knowledge of cybercrimes predominantly through personally knowing someone who had been victimized by a cybercrime (i.e. vicarious cybercrime experiences) and the media. The survey results show that undergraduate students reported being predominantly victimized by malware, hacking, and phishing. Despite the fact that both interviewees and survey participants expressed that they found reporting cybercrimes and having access to cybercrime victimization statistics to be important, the majority of participants did not know how to officially report a cybercrime. Cybercrime victimization can cause various kinds of harm (e.g. psychological, social, financial) to those affected. The focus on how cybercrimes affect a young subject group like undergraduate students who use technology frequently is motivated by the goal to bring more awareness to this issue and for preventative measures to be taken early on to help mitigate cybercrime risk.

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