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Cyber crime: a portrait of the landscape

Steven Furnell (Centre for Security, Communications and Network Research, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK)
Samantha Dowling (Home Office, London, UK)

Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice

ISSN: 2056-3841

Article publication date: 14 January 2019

Issue publication date: 7 March 2019




The purpose of this paper is to review current evidence in relation to scale and impacts of cyber crime, including various approaches to defining and measuring the problem.


A review and analysis of survey evidence is used to enable an understanding of the scope and scale of the cyber crime problem, and its effect upon those experiencing it.


The analysis evidences that cyber crime exists in several dimensions, with costs and harms that can be similarly varied. There is also a sense that, moving forward, the “cyber” label will become somewhat redundant as many crimes have the potential to have a technology component.

Research limitations/implications

The key evidence in this particular discussion has some geographic limitations, with much of the discussion focussed upon data drawn from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, as well as other UK-based sources. However, many of the broader points still remain more widely relevant.

Practical implications

This study helps in: better understanding the range and scale of cyber crime threats; understanding how the cyber element fits into the wider context of crime; improving the appreciation of what cyber crime can mean for potential victims; and recognising the cost dimensions, and the implications for protection and response.

Social implications

The discussion will help businesses and individuals to have a better appreciation of the cyber crime threat, and what ought to be considered in response to it.


The discussion is based upon recent evidence, and therefore represents a more up-to-date view of the cyber crime landscape than reviews already available in earlier literature.



Furnell, S. and Dowling, S. (2019), "Cyber crime: a portrait of the landscape", Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 13-26.



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