Older people (aged 60 years or over) are one of the fastest growing demographic groups of novice internet users, commonly using it to access banking, shopping and healthcare management services and for social media and other communication. The growing adaption of internet technology has exposed older adults to threats of online crime.
The aim of the PhD is to use stakeholder knowledge to develop appropriate safeguards that support older people to navigate cyberspace safely and protect them from the emerging epidemic of cybercrime
The PhD student will work with banks and financial institutions as well as organisations that look after the rights and welfare of older people to carry out cutting edge multi-disciplinary research under the supervision of Prof Claudia Cooper at UCL Psychiatry and Dr Kartikeya Tripathi at Security and Crime Science.
The project comes with a funding for an year of MRes study in which the student will multi-disciplinary skills necessary for designing a suitable intervention to safeguard older adults from online victimisation. That will be followed by three years of funding for the PhD.
The funding is provided by the Dawes Centre at the Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science at University College London (UCL). The centre focuses on key questions such as "which emerging crimes should we focus on, given limited resources?" and "how can we mitigate future threats?". It is recognised as a Centre of Excellence in its field and has excellent links to police and law enforcement agencies.
The PhD has great real-world relevance. Historically, older people have been a prime target for fraud because of several factors including their relative wealth, loneliness, memory loss, being from a generation characterised by high levels of trust and hesitancy to report the crime to authorities. A move to close down physical bank branches, encouraging their customers to conduct commercial transactions online, has heightened this vulnerability.
The PhD student will work with experts from law enforcement, industry (especially banks) and policy makers to deliver pre-emptive interventions for safeguarding older adults who go online.
The funding includes an annual stipend of £ 20,000.