Director, Cybercrime and Cybersecurity
PhD, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
MS, Boston University
BS, Northeastern University
Dr. Choi designed and oversees the Master of Science in Criminal Justice concentration and certificate in Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity, offered jointly by the Department of Applied Social Sciences and Department of Computer Science. Choi’s research focuses on the intersection of human behavior and technology—and how criminal justice can respond effectively to the challenges of cybercrime. In 2008, he proposed his Cyber-Routine Activities Theory, which has become a predominant theory on cybercrime and computer crime victimization. In 2009, the Korean Institute of Criminology, in cooperation with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), invited Choi to facilitate the UN’s Virtual Forum against Cybercrime (VFAC) as an instructor. His work has appeared in numerous criminal justice journals, and his books include Cybercriminology and Digital Investigation (LFB Scholarly Publishing, October 2015) and Risk Factors in Computer Crime (LFB Scholarly Publishing, August 2010).
In 2020, Choi was appointed chair of the American Society of Criminology’s Division of Cybercrime.
What is your area of expertise?
My area of expertise is cybercriminology, cybercrime investigation, and cybersecurity.
Please tell us about your work. Can you share any current research or recent publications?
My substantive area of study is cybercriminology, which focuses on how cybercriminal behavior and technology interact with the criminal justice system. I recently published three peer-reviewed journal articles—“Theoretical Analysis of Cyber-interpersonal Violence Victimization and Offending using Cyber-routine Activities Theory,” in Computers in Human Behavior; “Mobile Phone Technology and Online Sexual Harassment among Juveniles in South Korea: Effects of Self-control and Social Learning,” in the International Journal of Cyber Criminology; and “Applying Routine Activities Theory to Understand Physical and Nonphysical Peer Victimization,” in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma. Additionally, with the help of co-author Major Marlon Mike Toro-Alvarez—a MET cybercrime investigation master’s concentration graduate and member of the Colombia National Police—a Spanish translation of my work was published in November 2017, entitled Cibercriminología: Guía para la investigación del cibercrimen y mejores prácticas en seguridad digital, or, Cybercriminology: Guide for cybercrime investigation and best practices in digital security.
In the summer of 2017, I was invited by the Massachusetts government to give testimony regarding the latest efforts to reduce the risk of cybercrime facing the Commonwealth. At the Massachusetts State House, I discussed a bill which would create a special commission tasked with assessing the cybersecurity threats Massachusetts faces and advising on viable solutions. I continue to be involved with cybercrime policy advocacy in any way I can.
I am currently at work on Darknet- and Bitcoin-related projects. My latest study examines the characteristics and operations of online gambling websites which allow Bitcoin payments on both the Darknet and surface web. I will also soon conduct research analyzing known Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, which have occurred more frequently than ever before of late.
How does the subject you work in apply in practice? What is its application?
As a teacher-scholar, I am actively engaged in cybercrime and cybersecurity research, with the goal of becoming a better and more confident educator and mentor for our students. My career goal is to teach cybercrime and cybersecurity subjects and educate professionals and academics in this emerging field. Moreover, I believe that education in the cybercrime and cybersecurity field can facilitate rapid social welfare changes and establish social justice in our contemporary society. In order to accomplish my ambitions of becoming as refined a teacher-scholar as possible, I constantly work toward building the strongest possible scholarship so that I can effectively deliver and share what knowledge and skills I gain with students.
What courses do you teach in the program?
I mainly teach the Cybercrime (MET CJ 610) and Applied Digital Forensic Investigation (MET CJ 710) courses. I am also developing the Foundation of Cybersecurity course, in order to assist students who do not bring a technical background to their studies.
Can you highlight a particular project within these courses that most interests your students? What “real-life” exercises do you bring to classes?
As a “Virtual Forum Against Cybercrime” instructor under the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, I was very fortunate to work with many talented international cybercrime scholars and field investigators. I am dedicated to transforming my earned, practical knowledge into material with which to build core course contents and lab exercises.
To offer one example, the Cybercrime (MET CJ 610) course includes a case study project in which the students pick a case relevant to their field. Throughout the coursework, students craft a final paper that comprehensively reflects criminological perspective, victimization, legal and sanction issues, and criminal justice policy. In this way, students are able to easily build up their expertise and can then apply their gained knowledge to current or future professions.
In addition, the Applied Digital Forensic Investigation (MET CJ 710) course is comprised of the most fundamentally practical cybercrime investigation lab exercises, ranging from drafting a federal search warrant based on real cybercrime cases to conducing successful forensic examinations of digital devices and computer networks with hands-on experience within the Virtual Security Lab. The final project fully reflects the essential practical knowledge needed to simulate the digital forensic examiner’s field examinations.