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The individual’s role in cybercrime prevention: internal spheres of protection and our ability to safeguard them

Kristjan Kikerpill (Institute of Social Studies, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 4 November 2020

Issue publication date: 4 May 2021




As a well-known social institution, crime prevention has traditionally been in the purview of public authorities. However, the ceaseless increase in the use of online resources and governments’ responsibilisation approach to cybercrime prevention has created an ecosystem, which necessitates the empowerment of individuals. By introducing the concept of internal spheres of protection, the purpose of this paper is to show how traditionally public responsibilities require increased facilitation by individuals to adequately safeguard what they value.


This is a brief conceptual paper, which recasts the individual’s role in cybercrime prevention through a critique of the routine activity theory (Cohen and Felson, 1979) and explains how responsibilisation (Garland, 1996) has created an unavoidable need to provide individuals with the knowledge and tools required to avoid online victimisation.


In the context of cybercrime, criminological theories that are limited in considering the individual both as the target of crime and the person likeliest to prevent it are quickly becoming outdated. Public authorities either cannot intervene or are moving away from intervening on citizens’ behalf to effectively stymie the pressure from cybercriminals. Thus, there is a need of an approach that starts with individuals and their value-based motivations.


The concept of internal spheres of protection is a novel way of looking at cybercrime prevention. The internal spheres are based on individuals’ values, and the value of security in particular, and take cyber-knowledge as a point of departure towards safeguarding such values, i.e. through risk-decreasing actions and the use of relevant tools.



Kikerpill, K. (2021), "The individual’s role in cybercrime prevention: internal spheres of protection and our ability to safeguard them", Kybernetes, Vol. 50 No. 4, pp. 1015-1026.



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