Exploring masculinities and perceptions of gender in online cybercrime subcultures

Maria Bada, Yi Ting Chua, Ben Collier, Ildiko Pete

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

While there is now a substantial literature on the role played by online forums in cybercrime economies, there has been little research which accounts for the role played by gender in these communities. We study the role of gender in cybercrime communities, using an innovative research methodology which makes use of both qualitative and data science elements approaches to analyse a very large sample of posts on a cybercrime forum. Our findings suggest that a substantial sub-section of cybercriminal activity associated with these forums is deeply tied up with ideas about gender. A significant number of the actors we studied first became involved in these forums in an attempt to hack, stalk, or blackmail an intimate partner (usually a woman). Additionally, once involved in these communities, the performance and commodification of femininity was a key part of many of the ’less-technical’ or ’entry-level’ forms of cybercrime which we observed. Finally, despite the low technical skill of most of these actors, we found that they still had a deep connection to the ‘hacker’ identity, using misogyny to legitimise their position within this subculture and construct hacking as intrinsically masculine. We conclude by reflecting on the potential relevance for these findings for policy and intervention approaches in low-level cybercrime communities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCybercrime in Context
Subtitle of host publicationThe human factor in victimization, offending, and policing
EditorsMarleen Weulen Kranenbarg, Rutger Leukfeldt
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783030605278
ISBN (Print)9783030605261
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • gender
  • cybercrime
  • underground forums
  • grounded theory
  • data science
  • Natural Language Processing


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