Colleges Receive $10 Million Grant to Study Cyber Crime

By Catherine Groux
Posted September 28, 2012 11:00 AM

Researchers are studying the human element of cyber crime.
Researchers are studying the human element of cyber crime.
Last year, the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center received more than 300,000 reports of cyber crime, as it watched Americans lose about $485.3 million to such attacks in 2011 alone. These figures show the rise of cyber crime throughout the nation and underline the need for the U.S. to find ways to prevent it.

The National Science Foundation recently announced that it is doing its part to bolster cyber security by giving a $10 million grant to the University of California San Diego, George Mason University and the International Computer Science Institute, according to a press release. Over the course of five years, researchers from these institutions will study the human side of cyber crime, including the motivations that lead individuals to commit online attacks and the relationships among cyber criminals.

Previous research on the subject has largely focused on the technology individuals use to commit online attacks, but researchers said that by understanding the human element of cyber crime, they can find the most effective ways to intervene and prevent it from occurring.

"During our earlier work on analyzing the factors that go into making spam a profitable form of cyber crime, we were deeply struck by the significance of the human side of the equation," said Vern Paxon, one of the leaders of the project. "Non-technical considerations span business concerns, issues of trust-amongst-thieves, and the rise of social media as both a new domain that cyber crime is expanding into, and a way to track interactions amongst the criminals themselves."

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