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  1. Veni grant for research into cybercriminals and how hackers think and act

Veni grant for research into cybercriminals and how hackers think and act

NSCR researcher Asier Moneva has received a Veni grant for his research proposal How Do Cyber Offenders Commit Crime Online? Tracking the Digital Footprint of Hackers. NWO has awarded Veni funding of up to EUR 280,000 to 188 promising researchers from the full breadth of science. This will allow the laureates to further develop their own research ideas over the next three years.

Criminologists have been studying for years where, when, and how offline crimes are committed. But online crimes are committed differently. To commit offline crimes, criminals have to go out on the streets; for online crimes, they have to perform other types of activities while navigating the internet. However, criminologists know little about what cybercriminals actually do and the sites they visit.

Monitor hackers as they participate in cybercrime simulations

The research project How Do Cyber Offenders Commit Crime Online? Tracking the Digital Footprint of Hackers will monitor hackers as they consciously participate in cybercrime simulations: technical puzzles, prepared to collect real-time data on their online activities to understand how they think and act. The insights gained will help to improve cybercrime prevention strategies.

Where, when, and how is cybercrime committed?

Moneva is a postdoc at the NSCR research group Crime events in context that investigates where, when, and how crime is committed. To understand where, when, and how cybercrime is committed, he proposes to adapt the concept of crime journeys to online environments by building on existing literature, develop a methodology to accurately measure the online criminal behavior of hackers, and test whether the propositions about the decision-making processes of traditional offenders still hold for hackers.

Simulate realistic virtual cybercrime scenarios

Moneva’s unique position in the cybercrime field – connected to key players in academia, industry, and law enforcement – will allow him to recruit hackers to participate in his research. He will develop an IT infrastructure to collect objective data on cybercriminal behavior from consenting hackers through capture-the-flag exercises (i.e., cybersecurity challenges) that simulate realistic virtual cybercrime scenarios. The resulting novel and accurate observations will allow him to rigorously test hypothesis about how cybercriminals think and act online.

Innovation and curiosity

Together with the Vidi and Vici grants, Veni is part of the NWO Talent Programme which gives researchers the freedom to pursue their own research based on creativity and passion. The programme encourages innovation and curiosity. Curiosity-driven research contributes to and prepares us for tomorrow's society. That is why NWO focuses on a diversity in terms of researchers, domains, and backgrounds. NWO selects researchers based on the academic quality and the innovative character of the research proposal, the scientific and/or societal impact of the proposed project, and the quality of the researcher.

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions about the Talent Programme.

Dr Asier Moneva


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