Cybercrime Threat Landscape amid the Movement Control Order in Malaysia

  • N.K. Tharshini Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak
  • Zamri Hassan Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak
  • Faizah Haji Mas’ud Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak
Keywords: Cybercrime, COVID-19, Malaysia, Movement Control Order, Pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic has evolved rapidly and affected almost all the world's countries, creating unprecedented chaos on human lives, physical health, mental wellbeing, and the world economy. During this time, digital space has become an indispensable global means of communication, entertainment, and social interaction. However, high reliance on digital tools increases the risk of being prey to cyberattacks. In order to explore the cybercrime threat landscape, empirical research was conducted to examine the shared experiences related to cybercrime threats during the enforcement of the Movement Control Order in Malaysia. Data was collected using an online survey among 332 respondents across Malaysia. The finding stipulated that most of the respondents comprised females aged between 18 and 28 years old. The result also indicated that majority of female became victims of online phishing/malware distribution [(M = 0.58, SD = 0.13); t (113) = 2.24, p = 0.02] and online sexual harassment [(M = 0.56, SD = 0.11); t (107) = 2.38, p = 0.01]. The understanding of cybercrime experiences faced by the public during MCO is essential to help law enforcement agencies to stay vigilant on issues related to public safety and security during unprecedented conditions.


Abbas, H., Mahmoodzahed, M. Q., Aslam Khan, F., & Pasha, M. (2014). Identifying an OpenID Anti-Phishing Scheme for Cyberspace. Security and Communication Networks, 9, 481-491.

Abbasi, A., Zhang, Z., Zimbra, D., & Chen, H. (2010). Detecting Fake Websites: The Contribution of Statistical Learning Theory. MIS Quarterly, 34(3), 435-461.

Allodi, L. (2017). Economic Factors of Vulnerability Trade and Exploitation: Empirical Evidence from a Prominent Russian Cybercrime Market. Springer International Publishing.

Anastasi, A., & Urbina. S. (1997). Psychological Testing (7th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Arfi, N., & Agarwal, S. (2013). Knowledge of Cybercrime among Elderly. International Journal of Scientific and Engineering Research, 4(7), 1463.

Bateman, P. J., Pike, J. C., & Butler, B. S. (2011). To Disclose or Not: Publicness in Social Networking Sites. Information Technology & People, 24, 78-100.

Baumgartner, S. E., Valkenburg, P. M., & Peter, J. (2010). Unwanted Online Sexual Solicitation and Risky Sexual of a Phishing Attack. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 20, 570-584.

Boss, S. R., Galletta, D. F., Lowry, P. B., Moody, G. D., & Polak, P. (2015). What Do Systems Users Have to Fear? Using Fear Appeals to Engender Threats and Fear That Motivate Protective Security Behaviours. MIS Quarterly, 39(4), 837-864.

Business Today. (2020). KPMG: Hackers Exploiting Global Uncertainty during COVID-19 Pandemic.

Button, M., Nicholls, C. M., Kerr, J., & Owen, R. (2014). Online Frauds: Learning from Victims Why They Fall for These Scams. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 47(3), 391-408.

Cohen, L. E., & Felson, M. (1979). Social Change and Crime Rate Trends: A Routine Activity Approach. American Sociological Review, 44(4), 588-608.

Coyne, M. (2020). Crime Rates Across U.S. Drop Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic.

European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation. (EUROPOL) (2019). IOCTA. Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment. The Hague, The Netherlands: European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation.

European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation. (EUROPOL) (2020). Pandemic Profiteering: How Criminals Exploit the COVID-19 Cri¬sis. The Hague, The Netherlands: European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation.

Federal Commercial Crime Investigation Department. (2020). Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah Komersil.

Ferreira, A., Coventry, L., & Lenzini, G. (2015). Principles of Persuasion in Social Engineering and Their Use in Phishing. Springer International Publishing.

Fredrickson, B. L., & Branigan, C. (2005). Positive Emotions Broaden the Scope of Attention and Thought-Action Repertoires. Cognition and Emotion, 19(3), 313-332.

Futter, A. (2016). Is Trident Safe from Cyber Attack?

Gradon, K. (2020). Crime in the Time of the Plague: Fake News Pandemic and the Challenges to Law-Enforcement and Intelligence Community. Society Register, 4(2), 133-148.

Henson, B., Reyns, B. W., & Fisher, B. S. (2013). Does Gender Matter in the Virtual World? Examining the Effect of Gender on the Link between Online Social Network Activity, Security, and Interpersonal Victimization. Security Journal, 26(4), 315-330.

Holt, T. J., & Bossler, A. M. (2008). Examining the Applicability of Lifestyle-Routine Activities Theory for Cybercrime Victimization. Deviant Behaviour, 30(1), 1-25.

Holtfreter, K., & Meyers, T. J. (2015). Challenges for Cybercrime Theory, Research, and Policy. Behavioural Emerging Situations, 105-155. In G. C. Lajeunesse (Ed.), The Norwich Review of International and Transnational Crime (pp. 54-65). Norwich University: NUARI.

Interpol. (2020). COVID-19 Crime: INTERPOL Issues New Guidelines for Law Enforcement.

Jain, S. & Agrawal, S. (2020). Perceived Vulnerability of Cyberbullying on Social Networking Sites: Effects of Security Measures, Addiction and Self-Disclosure. Indian Growth and Development Review, 14(2), 149-171.

Jayabalan, P., Ibrahim, R., & Abdul Manaf, A. (2014). Understanding Cybercrime in Malaysia: An Overview. Sains Humanika, 2(2), 109-115.

Jensen, M. L., Dinger, M., Wright, R. T., & Thatcher, J. B. (2017). Training to Mitigate Phishing Attacks Using Mindfulness Techniques. Journal of Management Information Systems, 34(2), 597-626.

Jiloha, R. (2020). Internet Abuse: A Newer Form of Sexual Harassment. Journal of Advanced Research in Psychology and Psychotherapy, 3(1), 13-18.

Kaur, M. (2020). Online Gambling "Rampant" Since MCO Began. Free Malaysia Today.

Lopes, P. N, Salovey, P., & Straus, R. (2003). Emotional Intelligence, Personality, and the Perceived Quality of Social Relationships. Personality and Individual Differences, 35(3), 641-658.

Lynn, M. R. (1986). Determination and Quantification of Content Validity. Nursing Research, 35(6), 382-386.

Tee, K. (2020, April 6). IGP Vows Crackdown on Rampant Cigarette Smuggling, Online Gambling During MCO. Malay Mail.

Malaysian National Cyber Security Agency. (2020). MyCERT - The Malaysian Computer Emergency Response Team.

Maras, M. H. (2016). Cyber Criminology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Marchum, C. D., Ricketts, M. L., & Higgins, G. E. (2010). Assessing Sex Experiences of Online Victimization: An Examination of Adolescent Online Behaviours Using Routine Activity Theory. Criminal Justice Review, 35, 412-437.

Masuwai, A., Mohd Tajudin, N., & Shah. N. S. (2016). Evaluating the Face and Content Validity of a Teaching Guiding Principles Instrument (TLGPI): A Perspective Study of Malaysian Teacher Educators. Malaysian Journal of Society and Space, 12(3), 11-21.

Naidoo, R. (2020). A Multi-Level Influence Model of COVID-19 Themed Cybercrime. European Journal of Information Systems, 29(3), 306-321.

Nguyen, T. V. (2020). Cybercrime in Vietnam: An Analysis on Routine Activity Theory. International Journal of Cyber Criminology, 14(1), 156-173.

Norris, G., Brookes, A. & Dowell, D. (2019). The Psychology of Internet Fraud Victimisation: A Systematic Review. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 19(34), 231-245.

Norton Cybercrime Report. (2010). Norton's Cybercrime Report: The Human Impact Reveals Global Cybercrime Epidemic and Our Hidden Hypocrisy.

Oluwatayo. J. A. (2012). Validity and Reliability Issues in Educational Research. Journal of Educational and Social Research, 2(2), 391-400.

Police Act. (1967). Laws of Malaysia: Online Version of Updated Text of Print (Act 344). chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html?

Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease Act. (1988). The Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measure Within the Infected Local Areas) Regulation 2020 - Containing the COVID-19 Outbreak in Malaysia.

Reich, P. C., & Gelbstein, E. (2012). Law, Policy and Technology: Cyberterrorism, Information Warfare and Internet Immobilisation. USA: Hershey.

Reja, U., Manfreda, K. L., Hlebec, V., & Vehovar, V. (2003). Open-Ended VS Closed-Ended Questions in Web Questionnaires. Development Application Statistic, 19, 159-177.

Roberts, J. A., & Manolis, C. (2012). Cooking up a Recipe for Self-Control: The Three Ingredients of Self-Control and its Impact on Impulse Buying. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 20(2), 173-188.

Ronchi, E., & Kinsey, M. (2011). Evacuation Models of the Future: Insights from an Online Survey on User's Experiences and Needs. In J. Capote & D. Alvear (Eds.), Proceedings of the Advanced Research Workshop: "Evacuation and Human Behaviour in Emergency Situations" (pp. 145-155). Universidad de Cantabria.

Sangoseni, O., Hellman, M., & Hill, C. (2013). Development and Validation of a Questionnaire to Assess the Effect of Online Learning on Behaviours, Attitudes, and Clinical Practices of Physical Therapists in the United States Regarding Evidence-Based Clinical Practice. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice, 11(2), 113.

Segal, S. (2020). Breaking Down the G20 COVID-19 Fiscal Response. Centre for Strategies and International Studies (CSIS).

Stickle, B. & Felson, M. (2020). Crime Rates in a Pandemic: The Largest Criminological Experiment in History. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 45, 525-536.

Sun, J. C. (2016). The Mediating Effect of Anti-Phishing Self-Efficacy between College: Internet Self-Efficacy and Anti-Phishing Behavior and Gender. Computers in Human Behaviour, 59, 12-14.

Symantec. (2018). We Stop Threats Hiding in Plain Sight.

Van Wilsem, J. (2013). Bought It but Never Got It: Assessing Risk Factors for Online Consumer Fraud Victimization. European Sociological Review, 29(2), 168-178.

Vishwanath, A. (2015). Examining the Distinct Antecedents of E-Mail Habits and its Influence on the Outcome. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 20(5), 570-584.

World Economic Forum. (2019). The Cybersecurity Guide for Leaders in Today's Digital World.

Ybarra, M. L., Mitchell, K. J., & Finkelhor, D. (2007). Internet Prevention Messages: Targeting the Right Online Behaviors. Arch Paediatric Adolescent Medicine, 161, 138-45.

How to Cite
N.K. Tharshini, Zamri Hassan, & Faizah Haji Mas’ud. (2021). Cybercrime Threat Landscape amid the Movement Control Order in Malaysia. International Journal of Business and Society, 22(3), 1589-1601.