A British study will investigate links between cybercrime and autistic-like personality traits.
Autism and traits of the condition appear to be more prevalent among cyber criminals than for other types of crime but the link remains unproven.
The project aims to cover all aspects of cybercrime, such as coding and malware, as well as activities carried out over the ‘dark web’.
The work will provide information on the size and nature of cybercrime and the degree to which autistic-like traits are represented in cybercrime offenders.
Researchers will also look to identify risk factors that could lead to cybercrime activity and what measures could be taken to prevent it.
The project is by the University of Bath’s Centre for Applied Autism, the cybercrime unit at the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the charity Research Autism.
Professor Mark Brosnan, of the University of Bath, said: “A growing perception among law enforcement agencies suggests that a significant number of people arrested in connection with cybercrime may be on the autism spectrum.
“But whilst media coverage has helped to shape public perceptions about this issue there has, to date, been little in the way of systematic research to really unpick this idea.
“Through our project we will explore whether autistic traits are actually associated with computer-related abilities and cybercrime.
“Whatever the conclusion, our findings will have important implications for better understanding why people do – and indeed do not – engage in cybercrime.”
The researchers hope the work will provide deeper understanding about the motivations and characteristics of people likely to commit cybercrime and how they become involved in such offences.