Publication details

Home Publications Publication details

Computer Crime and Abuse: A Survey of Public Attitudes and Awareness
Dowland PS, Furnell SM, Illingworth HM, Reynolds PL
Computers & Security, vol. 18, no. 8, pp715-726, 1999
Please note: the electronic copy of the survey referred to in this paper is no longer available.
Download links:  Download PDF

In recent years, a number of surveys have indicated a significant escalation in reported incidents of computer crime and abuse. This rise is coupled with increasing attention to the issue in the mass media, which has the effect of heightening public perceptions of problems with IT and may represent a barrier to the adoption of technologies such as the Internet and World Wide Web.




This paper considers the effects of computer crime and draws upon the results of a survey conducted to assess public attitudes and awareness of the issue. With the mass media playing an important role in shaping individual opinions, this survey considered the effect that the reporting of incidents has upon public perceptions and understanding of computer crime and abuse.




The survey results show that individual awareness of computer crime and abuse is high and that the majority of respondents perceive it to be a problem. However, the views expressed regarding the seriousness of the different types of abuse (and the potential motivations for them) were more variable. In addition, awareness of abuse is more widespread than knowledge of the associated legislation that may be used to prevent and punish it. The results also revealed the significant potential for media reports to influence opinions in this area, highlighting the importance of a responsible attitude in order to foster the information society.

Dowland PS, Furnell SM, Illingworth HM, Reynolds PL