Cyber-Dependent Crimes: An Interdisciplinary Review
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Online crime has increased in severity and frequency over the past two decades. However, although several scientific disciplines have commonly employed criminological theories to explain this phenomenon, mainstream criminology has devoted relatively scant attention to the investigation of cyber-criminals and their victims. Drawing on this assumption that more criminological attention should be given to this important type of crime, this article presents an interdisciplinary review of the current state of research on cyber-dependent crimes (i.e., crimes that require the use of computer technology to exist, such as hacking). We begin with a brief discussion of the ecosystem of cyber-dependent crimes and the key actors who operate within it, including the online offenders and enablers, targets and victims, and guardians. Next, we review empirical scholarship that pertains to each actor while distinguishing between nontheoretical research and theoretically driven studies. We then detail methodological and theoretical avenues that should be pursued by future research and discuss why criminological research should lead policy initiatives and guide the design of technical tools that improve the scientific community’s ability to generate a safer and more secure cyber-environment. We conclude by discussing potential ways in which cyber-dependent crime research could pave the way for the advancement of mainstream criminological theory and research.