UCLan experts tell us life will never get back to normal

Life as we we knew it pre-Covid-19 will never be the same.

Dr Tim Owen
Dr Tim Owen

That's the verdict of Preston-based academics in a new book on cybercrime.

The staff at the city's University of Central Lancashire provide a worrying glimpse of a post Covid-world in the tome, Rethinking Cybercrime: Critical Debates.

Published by Palgrave Macmillan, it has been edited by UCLan’s Dr Tim Owen, Reader in criminology, and Jess Marshall, a senior lecturer in social science.

UCLan pair have edited a new book on cybercrime

Based on selected papers from previous cybercrime conferences, the book provides a contemporary ‘snapshot’ of critical debate centred around cybercrime and related issues including cyber-terrorism, online grooming, hacktivism and law.

Speaking about the book and its relevance in a post-covid world, Dr Owen said: "A recurring theme being asked by everyone is: 'When will we be returning to normality?'. In an effort to predict future trends I would suggest the possible answer to that question is, never.

"For those of us concerned with cybercrime, predictably malicious and fraudulent websites have sprung up claiming to offer information and advice about the pandemic, scammers are exploiting the desire for a cure for the virus, there have been hacking and ransomware attacks upon hospitals and medical research centres, and Europol are currently dealing with the trafficking of counterfeit coronavirus medicines.

"It is probably the case that there might be future pandemics on this scale and our increasing reliance upon new technology ensures that cyberspace is and will remain the fastest-growing site for crime and deviance."

The director of the UCLan Cybercrime Research Unit (UCRU) within the university’s Lancashire Law School, added: "To counter this landscape we require a collaborative approach which views the cyber offender through a flexible, four-fold lens, considering psychological, social, genetic and neurological factors in order to make sense of a new, post-pandemic world in which most organisations are working from home via information technology, and our fears of contagion become business opportunities for cybercriminals."

The book is aimed at advanced lecturers and those working in professions connected to criminology, law, sociology, social policy, computer studies, policing, forensic investigation, public services and philosophy who want to understand cybercrime from different angles and perspectives.

Dr Owen is the author of many books, book chapters and journal articles in criminology, sociology, philosophy and social policy.

Senior lecturer Jessica Marshall is also a Research Fellow of the Cybercrime Research Unit.