Thomas J. Holt's research while affiliated with Michigan State University and other places

Publications (181)

Article
The current study examines recommendations for addressing organizational members who fall prey to social engineering as a matter of organizational policy through a qualitative analysis of interviews with organizational IT security administrators, IT security auditors, and social engineers. The results of this analysis indicate that participants had...
Article
This work introduces the special edited issue on the human factor in cybercrime research.
Article
The development of online technologies in recent decades has led to the proliferation of the distribution, consumption, and sale of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online. This trend has arguably also contributed to the sexual abuse of children offline. In this context, many organizations, including financial institutions and police agencies, ha...
Book
Full-text available
Advancements in information technology are sources of both opportunity and vulnerability for citizens. Previous research indicates that there are significant challenges for police in investigating cybercrime, that community expectations about police responses are based largely on media representations, and that victims experience high levels of fru...
Article
Criminologists have frequently debated whether offenders are specialists, in that they consistently perform either one offense or similar offenses, or versatile by performing any crime based on opportunities and situational provocations. Such foundational research has yet to be developed regarding cybercrimes, or offenses enabled by computer techno...
Article
Concern over juvenile sexting behaviors has increased substantially over the last decade, leading to criminological inquiries of the correlates of sexting. Evidence suggests that sexting behavior is associated with one's level of self-control, such that individuals with low self-control are unable to constrain themselves from acting on opportunitie...
Article
Digital forensic evidence has become an essential component of criminal investigations across the United States. The amplified integration of technology with society, however, continues to present new challenges for law enforcement officers. This issue is evident in one of the key responsibilities of police agencies involves the enforcement of traf...
Article
Full-text available
The development of online technologies in recent decades has facilitated the distribution and consumption of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) over the internet, which also led to the emergence of CSAM on the darknet-the segment of the internet hidden from the general public. Using data obtained from interviews with online investigators, this stud...
Article
This volume highlights the central role of the human factor in cybercrime and the need to develop a more interdisciplinary research agenda to understand better the constant evolution of online harms and craft more effective responses. The term “human factor” is understood very broadly and encompasses individual, institutional, and societal dimensio...
Article
Full-text available
Romance fraud occurs when offenders use the guise of a genuine relationship to defraud a victim, typically via online communications. Research has focused on the general structure of romance frauds, but few scholars have considered the potential link between victimization and specific narratives employed by offenders. This article explores the repo...
Article
This review synthesises empirical studies from the past decade investigating child sexual abuse material (CSAM) production and distribution to gain insight into crime commission processes involved in these crimes. The findings highlight overlaps in risk factors for child sexual abuse and CSAM production and distribution, and possible unique risk fa...
Article
Full-text available
This review synthesises empirical studies from the past decade investigating child sexual abuse material (CSAM) production and distribution to gain insight into crime commission processes involved in these crimes. The findings highlight overlaps in risk factors for child sexual abuse and CSAM production and distribution, and possible unique risk fa...
Book
This edited book promotes and facilitates cybercrime research by providing a cutting-edge collection of perspectives on the critical usage of online data across platforms, as well as the implementation of both traditional and innovative analysis methods. The accessibility, variety and wealth of data available online presents substantial opportuniti...
Article
Criminological inquiry consistently identifies a gender difference in offending rates, which are also evident among certain forms of cybercrime. The gender difference in cybercrime offending is particularly large within computer hacking, though few have specifically addressed this issue through applications of criminological theory. The current stu...
Article
Gottfredson and Hirschi’s general theory of crime argues individuals with low self-control are more likely to engage in crime on and off-line. There is less research considering the role of opportunity, as low self-control should increase individuals’ willingness to act on opportunities to offend. The importance of opportunity is distinct for cyber...
Article
Full-text available
Criminological inquiry has identified a range of risk factors associated with juvenile delinquency. However, little research has assessed juvenile computer hacking, despite the substantial harm and opportunities for delinquent behavior online. Therefore, understanding the applicability of criminological risk factors among a cross-national sample of...
Article
Incels, a portmanteau of the term involuntary celibates, operate in online communities to discuss difficulties in attaining sexual relationships. Past reports have found that multiple elements of the incel culture are misogynistic and favorable towards violence. Further, several violent incidents have been linked to this community, which suggests t...
Chapter
The rise of technology has made it possible for individuals to communicate with people around the world in real time through text, video, and audio files. The quantity and quality of this information creates unique opportunities for researchers to examine crime and deviance occurring on- or off-line. There is, however, a lack of agreement among sch...
Article
Past research has considered the ways in which vendors and consumers of illicit goods adapt to various formal and informal threats and manage risk in online environments. However, this topic is virtually unexplored in the context of contract-based violence. Using a sample of 24 advertisements posted on the Open and Dark web, this study utilizes a q...
Article
Technology has dramatically simplified the process of engaging in a variety of crimes, particularly the distribution of child exploitation materials, or CEM. The ability to share photos and video across the globe through high speed Internet connections and mobile devices has made it easy to access CEM. At the same time, technology has complicated t...
Article
Full-text available
The significant economic and emotional consequences of online fraud have not been equally matched by the policing response to these offenses. This paper examines constables’ and sergeants’ perceived preparation to respond to online fraud through a quantitative analyses of survey data collected from over 1300 officers from 35 local police agencies a...
Article
Full-text available
Research on delinquency reduction often highlights the importance of identifying and sanctioning antisocial and illegal activities so as to reduce the likelihood of future offending. The rise of digital technology complicates the process of detecting cybercrimes and technology enabled offenses, as individuals can use devices from anywhere to engage...
Article
This study provides a partial test of the relationship between actor motivations and target suitability using a routine activity framework to understand a form of cybercrime called web defacements. Specifically, the relationships between the visibility, inertia, value, and accessibility of the target in online spaces relative to the unique nonmonet...
Article
Over the last decade, there has been an increased focus among researchers on the role of the Internet among actors and groups across the political and ideological spectrum. There has been particular emphasis on the ways that far-right extremists utilize forums and social media to express ideological beliefs through sites affiliated with real-world...
Book
This Major Reference Work synthesizes the global knowledge on cybercrime from the leading international criminologists and scholars across the social sciences. The constant evolution of technology and our relationship to devices and their misuse creates a complex challenge requiring interdisciplinary knowledge and exploration. This work addresses t...
Article
Full-text available
This study focuses on the organization practices of networks of cybercriminals engaged in serious financial offenses, through a qualitative analysis of the Best and Luckenbill’s sociological framework. The study utilized data collected regarding 18 separate criminals investigations from the Netherlands. The results demonstrate that the participants...
Article
Purpose Cybercrime is the greatest threat facing law enforcement agencies in England and Wales. Although these crimes are transnational by nature, the burden of response has been placed on line officers. Not all officers, however, believe they are capable of responding to calls involving cybercrime. The current study, using latent class analysis (L...
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which line officers in police agencies can identify digital evidence at crime scenes, also known as the binary artifacts stored on computers, mobile devices, tablets and the internet, through an analysis of survey responses of line staff in a Midwestern state police agency. Design/metho...
Chapter
This chapter examines the use of targeted warnings and cautions by police (i.e. cease-and-desist messaging) that aim to deter potential offenders from future offending. These interventions rely on rational choice and labelling theories of crime. This chapter examines the results of studies that evaluate such interventions for offline crimes. Overal...
Chapter
This chapter investigates the use of educational workshops in preventing crime. This type of intervention brings together groups of individuals deemed at risk of offending to educate them about the consequences of crime, or to promote positive behaviours and skills that reduce the likelihood of committing crime. Though educational workshops vary wi...
Chapter
The book begins with an introductory chapter that sets the scene: providing an overview of the core principles associated with crime prevention targeting that will be drawn upon throughout. It chronicles the unique aspects of offending within digital contexts, and in particular, explicates offending lifecycles, and flags significant points of diver...
Chapter
This chapter draws together the key empirical strands that have emerged throughout the preceding chapters and explicates the practical dimensions of this work. It acknowledges first that there has been very little research evaluating the effects of crime prevention initiatives on cybercrime. It then outlines ways in which this gap can be addressed...
Chapter
This chapter investigates a series of interventions that fall under the banner of restorative justice procedures. These procedures offer an informal alternative to formal court processes and typically involve bringing the offender and the victim together to discuss the harm caused, as well as measures to remediate the harm and assist the offender t...
Chapter
This chapter examines a broad range of techniques known as situational crime prevention (SCP). This form of intervention takes cues from a host of theoretical perspectives and involves the design and manipulation of the environment to make offenders’ decisions to become involved in crime less attractive. The use of SCP is widespread in traditional...
Chapter
This chapter examines the programs and strategies associated with positive diversions. Positive diversions redirect individuals towards prosocial behaviours and peer influences and focus on rehabilitation rather than punitive actions. This chapter reviews the evidence for such interventions in reducing offline crime, concluding that the findings ar...
Chapter
This chapter explores universal communication strategies: mass media messages that aim to deter people from committing crimes. These interventions are underpinned by rational choice theories of crime, and typically attempt to alter individuals’ perceptions of the risks and rewards of offending. Mass media communications target a wide audience and h...
Chapter
This chapter examines interventions that can be broadly categorised as mentoring. Mentoring is underpinned by a philosophy that promotes supportive interpersonal relationships that offer guidance to young people throughout their social-emotional, cognitive, and identity development. This chapter chronicles the popularity of mentoring as being one o...
Book
This book articulates how crime prevention research and practice can be reimagined for an increasingly digital world. This ground-breaking work explores how criminology can apply longstanding, traditional crime prevention techniques to the digital realm. It provides an overview of the key principles, concepts and research literature associated with...
Article
Criminological research has demonstrated the significant relationship between deviant peer associations, a lack of self-control, and individual delinquency. These relationships also account for involvement in cybercrime, though these results are based largely on adult samples. There is less research considering juvenile offending online, particular...
Article
Minimal research has considered the extent to which pedophile social support forum users disclose physical relationships with minors in the course of their posts. As these forums cater to those who express sexual interests in minors, the users may be at higher risk for contact offenses and require unique treatment and supervision. To address this g...
Article
Over the last few years the market for distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks has changed from a pay-per-attack model executed by botnets, to a subscription service of booters and stressers where “subscribers” launch their own attacks through a web-based front end. The DDoS attack strength of booters and stressers has significantly increased...
Article
The advancement of the Internet and digital technology has enabled individuals to commit crimes affecting both virtual and real targets at will. Criminological scholarship related to cybercrime and technology-enabled offending has primarily focused on offenders and victims, calling to question how police agencies effectively respond to these incide...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The South Australian Digital Youth Survey (DYS) is a world-first longitudinal project exploring how adolescents use digital technology and how this changes over the course of adolescence. The project examines the links between how adolescents use technology and pathways into cyber risk-taking. In studying these links, this project seeks to identify...
Article
Research has demonstrated that hacker subculture – like many other tech-oriented communities – is disproportionately composed of men. While prior attempts have been made to explain this disparity, few, if any, explore the role of subculture in this gendered divide. Drawing from feminist theories, subcultural theory, and cultural criminology, this t...
Article
Full-text available
The development of the Darknet as a parallel network to the Web in the 21st century has facilitated illegal trafficking in small arms, as defined by the United Nations. The authors have used investigative research methodologies to observe six weapon sale sites on the Darknet over a six-month period to identify sellers of firearms, the type and cali...
Article
Although recent years have seen a great increase in the study of hate crime and terrorism, there is limited research to date that explores connections between hate crime and terrorism. This study uses a qualitative case-study method to explore the competing criminological theories of social learning and social control to investigate their utility i...
Article
This study explores the utility of a sociological model of social organization developed by Best and Luckenbill (1994) to classify the radicalization processes of terrorists (i.e., extremist perpetrators who engaged in ideologically motivated acts of violence) who are usually categorized as loner or lone wolf attackers. There are several organizati...
Article
Over the last two decades, there has been a massive increase in research examining terror and extremist-related violence. Few have considered the extent to which these same groups may engage in attacks against digital infrastructure and the Internet, whether through hacking or other methods. The absence of empirical evidence calls to question the n...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract In the computer science field coordinated vulnerability disclosure is a well-known practice for finding flaws in IT-systems and patching them. In this practice, a white-hat hacker who finds a vulnerability in an IT-system reports that vulnerability to the system’s owner. The owner will then resolve the problem, after which the vulnerabilit...
Article
Research examining the illicit online market for cybercrime services operating via web forums, such as malicious software, personal information, and hacking tools, has greatly improved our understanding of the practices of buyers and sellers, and the social forces that structure actor behavior. The majority of these studies are based on open market...
Article
Recent research demonstrates that those with low self-control have an increased risk of victimization due to involvement in routine activities that place them in close proximity to motivated offenders and decrease their willingness to utilize appropriate guardianship factors. This relationship is significant in predicting physical forms of victimiz...
Article
This article presents a systematic linguistic approach to mapping gender differences in the formulation and practice of right-wing ideology. We conducted a set of content-and text-analytical analyses on a 52,760 words corpus from a female-only subforum, dubbed LOTIES (Ladies of the Invisible Empire), compared with a matching corpus of 1.793 million...
Article
Cybercrimes, or offenses enabled by technology, affect computer systems and people and prove difficult to pursue through traditional criminal justice strategies due to jurisdictional challenges and legal hurdles. As a result, corporations and industry have begun to play a role in mitigating various forms of cybercrime. This article examines what co...
Article
Full-text available
Recent arrests and takedowns of Stressers have shown Stressers are very profitable and used by thousands of individuals to launch denial of service attacks. For example, the Titanium Stresser was used to launch more than 1.7 million DDoS attacks, and the operator profited almost $400k in a 2 year period. But there has been very little research into...
Article
This study investigates the predictors of four types of cybercrime victimization/experiences: online harassment, hacking, identity theft, and receiving nude photos or explicit content. The effects of victimization opportunity and low self-control are examined as the primary independent variables in logistic regression analyses of data collected fro...
Article
Research on cybercrime offending and victimization has increased dramatically over the past two decades, though qualitative scholarship on more technical offenses such as computer misuse have not kept pace with this broader trend. The aim of this research is to identify potential best practices for researchers considering qualitative interviews as...
Article
Research on radicalization to accept extremist ideologies has expanded dramatically over the last decade, particularly attempts to theorize pathways to violence. These models are complex, and contain aspects of key criminological frameworks including social learning and social control theories. At the same time, they do reconcile the inherent diffe...
Article
Over the past several decades, criminological scholarship has increasingly focused on the problem of cybercrime including technology-enabled offending. Theoretical developments that account for these offences have not grown in tandem, leading to questions as to the nature of cybercriminality relative to traditional forms of offending. Recently, Gol...
Article
This study attempted to confirm the existence of a suppression situation among social learning, low self-control, and software piracy measures. Using a cross-sectional study of middle and high school students, structural equation modeling was used to confirm the measurement of a second-order social learning factor and the existence of a mediated su...
Article
This study examines the perceptions of police constables and sergeants across England and Wales regarding the nature of cybercrimes, their frequency, and any time spent investigating these offences each week. Though previous research has examined line officer views and police management in the US, there is limited research examining how constables...
Article
Full-text available
This article explores the ways in which young people experience the Internet as a potentially criminogenic medium. To date, little research has explored the possible links between the mundane, ubiquitous use of digital communication technologies by young people and involvement in delinquency in online contexts. The current empirical study seeks to...
Chapter
The basis of deception is misdirection—shaping the perceptions and beliefs of the target audience. This chapter begins by exploring some of the traditional deception methods used by magicians and how these techniques can be similarly leveraged by cyber threat actors to circumvent human defenses. In particular, the first section of the chapter provi...
Chapter
This chapter explores how story narrative can captivate, compel, and deceive the receiving audience. The history and elements of urban legends, hoaxes, and chain communications are examined as underpinnings of deception strategies. The chapter then examines the evolution of these types of communications and how traditional urban myths and hoax comm...
Chapter
This chapter provides the reader with a description of a set of technologies collectively known as “honey” technologies. The beginning discussion provides the reader with a brief history of early and often unintended honey technology experiences from the likes of Cliff Stoll, Bill Cheswick, and Fred Cohen. The next section focuses on the idea of ho...
Chapter
For over half a century researchers have scientifically studied persuasion and influence. The corpus of this research resulted in established theories and practices that are effectively used in a myriad of contexts where human relationships and factors are paramount. This chapter first explores traditional psychological influence concepts and techn...
Chapter
Chapter Four delves deeply into human actors involved in underground cyber markets in order to better understand how they function and what social dynamics shape the behavior of users. In particular, this chapter focuses on markets where individuals sell cybercrime as a service, including malware, hacking services, Distributed Denial of Service (DD...
Chapter
This chapter describes how jihadi movements utilize the Internet to shape the history and objectives of their movements, communicate ideological information to adherents as well as potential recruits, and provide a platform for fundraising as well. In addition, the chapter discusses how these movements have utilized the Internet to disseminate info...
Chapter
As victim organizations and users have become more cautious and aware of certain cyber attacks, cyber threat actors have developed new, creative methods to circumvent technical countermeasures and user vigilance. This chapter explores how attackers use deception strategies and techniques to skillfully circumvent human defenses. The chapter first lo...
Chapter
This chapter describes the nature of asymmetric warfare on the Internet and how online deception plays a key role in psychological operations by both nation states and non-nation state actors. The role that the cyber domain plays in nationalism and nation state espionage is discussed and in particular China is held up as an example of how these con...
Chapter
This chapter focuses on deceptive techniques used in video, specifically applied to Internet video communications. A discussion of deception used in still photography and in film ground the concepts in history with contemporary examples highlighting its role. Some of the historical techniques used to fake photography and create special effects for...
Chapter
This chapter looks to the future to discuss how the advancements of technology and cyber communications will impact deceptive techniques. While the future will no doubt bring about new and creative methods of deception, there several interesting topics that are already in development including nanotechnology, quantum stealth, and advanced drones. T...
Article
Full-text available
Cybercrime research suggests that, analogous to traditional crime, victims are more likely to be offenders. This overlap could be caused by shared risk factors, but it is unclear if these are comparable to traditional risk factors. Utilizing a high risk sample of computer-dependent cyber-offenders and traditional offenders (N = 535) we compare vict...
Article
Full-text available
Over the last two decades there has been a substantive increase in the number of cybercrime and digital forensic units in local and state police agencies across the US. There is, however, little research on the occupational responses of individuals serving in specialized roles within criminal justice agencies. Individuals tasked to these units are...