Visible to the public SaTC: CORE: Small: Collaborative: Understanding Law-Enforcement Cyber InvestigationsConflict Detection Enabled

Project Details


Performance Period

Oct 01, 2019 - Sep 30, 2022


Kansas State University


National Science Foundation

Award Number

Numerous challenges confront law enforcement investigations and prosecutions of cybercrime offenses, including under-reporting by victims, jurisdictional conflicts and limitations, insufficient resources, training, and expertise, as well as organizational constraints. This research is a study of cybercrime investigators, their departments, and the challenges they face in fighting cybercrime. The research consists of social scientific research on how law enforcement investigators and their units conduct cybercrime investigations. The findings will contribute to the academic literature in criminology, sociology, and other disciplines and inform recommendations for improvements in the resources, policies, and procedures of law enforcement agencies engaged in cybercrime investigations. This research also will contribute to the education of students of social science and cybersecurity, who will be involved in the data collection and analyses of data. The research will be critical to understanding the vital role law enforcement plays in apprehending cybercrime offenders and disrupting criminal networks, useful functions in the provision of a secure and trustworthy cyberspace.

To understand the challenges confronting cybercrime investigators, the researchers are using ethnographic techniques to study cybercrime units and specialized personnel who work in them. The study examines (1) innovative cybercrime units and those that are leaders in their field and (2) cybercrime units in transition or those only recently having developed cybercrime investigative capabilities. These are the units and personnel most likely to have experience managing the perils and pitfalls involved in such investigations. Within these units, the researchers will employ in-depth qualitative interviews that will probe challenges such investigators face, their relationships to other public and private cybercrime/information security organizations, sense of occupational identity, relationship between cybercrime investigators to other police personnel and organizations, and perceptions of cybercrime and offenders. The researchers also work with other criminal justice units and agencies to learn more about case processing policies and procedures.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.