Victims of Computer Misuse Crime

Dates: September 2018 – April 2020
Lead researchers: Professor Mark Button, Dr Lisa Sugiura, Dean Blackbourn, Dr David Shepherd, Dr Richard Kapend and Dr Victoria Wang, University of Portsmouth


This work had three broad aims:
• To examine the nature and impact of computer misuse related crime on victims;
• To assess the support provided to such victims and identify better means to prevent such crime; and
• To investigate the experiences and perceptions of those victims who have experienced a law enforcement response.

The findings showed that most victims regard computer misuse crime as an equivalent crime to traditional crimes like burglary, with some considering it more serious, and a small minority regarding it as a lesser crime. The research demonstrated victims experience many of the impacts that other crime victims experience, with some overlap with fraud, including financial, psychological and emotional, health related, and reputational impacts. The research explored how individuals fell victim, which included being tricked by sophisticated social engineering, and illustrated that while some victims had poor security behaviours putting them at greater risk, some fell victim despite having good security procedures in place. Victims generally did not make major changes to their cyber security behaviour after falling victim.

Policy implications

The report made 12 recommendations to specific policy audiences. They include a number of suggestions around round the roles and responsibilities of Action Fraud, (including renaming it to the ‘National Fraud and Cybercrime Reporting Centre’), how Action Fraud works with NCSC, and resources and schemes provided by Government and law enforcement to tackle computer misuse crime.


Literature Review, Website analysis, 8 stakeholder interviews, 52 victim interviews and a survey of 252 victims.

Find out more

Executive Summary, University of Portsmouth:

Funders: Home Office, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services.


Posted on

December 9, 2021