Exploring the impact of how criminals interact with cyber-networks—a mathematical modeling approach

Tichaona Chikore, Mwawi Nyirenda-Kayuni, Queensley C. Chukwudum, Zviiteyi Chazuka, John Mwaonanji, Meshach Ndlovu, Moster Zhangazha, Fezile Mhlabane, Shaibu Osman, Farai Nyabadza, K. A.jane White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a growing interest in using mathematical models to understand crime dynamics, crime prevention, and detection. The past decade has experienced a relative reduction in conventional crimes, but this has been replaced by significant increases in cybercrime. In this paper, we use deterministic modelling to describe the spread of cybercrime across a cyber-network by describing the heterogeneity of interactions between individuals using a nonlinear interaction between individuals in the network, and we allow criminals to operate either internally or externally to the cyber-network. We are able to determine the impact of the location of the criminal relative to the cyber-network which is being attacked. The model structure incorporates key elements of a social network structure thereby allowing for limited rates of victimisation. Both model structure and our observations are novel and provide a new contribution to the theoretical discussion of cybercrime dynamics, offering potential avenues to consider control strategies. Using steady-state analysis and extensive numerical simulations, we find that the location of criminals relative to the network does not impact the system qualitatively, although there are quantitative differences. Cyber-networks that are more clustered are likely to experience greater levels of cybercrime, but there is also a saturation effect that limits the level of victimisation as the number of criminals attempting to undertake crimes on given network increases. We discuss model limitations and describe how the model might be used with datasets to translate the theoretical findings into a useful tool in the fight to detect and eradicate cybercrime activity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2295059
JournalResearch in Mathematics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • criminals
  • cybercrime
  • mathematical model
  • steady-state analysis
  • victims

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics


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