Is there a relationship between cyber-dependent crime, autistic-like traits and autism?

Katy-Louise Payne, Ailsa Russell, Richard Mills, Katie Maras, Dheeraj Rai, Mark Brosnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (SciVal)


International law enforcement agencies have reported an apparent preponderance of autistic individuals amongst perpetrators of cyber-dependent crimes, such as hacking or spreading malware (Ledingham and Mills in Adv Autism 1:1–10, 2015). However, no empirical evidence exists to support such a relationship. This is the first study to empirically explore potential relationships between cyber-dependent crime and autism, autistic-like traits, explicit social cognition and perceived interpersonal support. Participants were 290 internet users, 23 of whom self-reported being autistic, who completed an anonymous online survey. Increased risk of committing cyber-dependent crime was associated with higher autistic-like traits. A diagnosis of autism was associated with a decreased risk of committing cyber-dependent crime. Around 40% of the association between autistic-like traits and cyber-dependent crime was mediated by advanced digital skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4159-4169
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


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