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The internet and digital technologies provide a platform for committing crimes such as fraud and identity theft on an industrial scale. Increased connectivity has created new opportunities for criminals, new methods of delivery and new ‘business models’, bringing the online forms of these crimes within the definition of cyber crime.

Cybercrime takes two forms:

  • crimes where computers or other information communications technologies are an integral part of an offence, such as online fraud, identity theft and the distribution of child exploitation material
  • crimes directed at computers or other information communications technologies, such as hacking or unauthorised access to data.

Examples of how traditional crimes have moved to the online environment include:

Traditional crimes and their cybercrime equivalents

Traditional crime

Cybercrime equivalent


Online fraud/mass marketed fraud, including auction fraud, advance fee fraud, phishing

Burglary/malicious damage

Online hacking, denial of service attacks, viruses

Child sex offences

Online child grooming, child pornography websites

Money laundering

Through online payment systems, e-cash


Identity theft, bank website ‘phishing’ and movie, music and software piracy


Cyber stalking, cyber bullying

The internet is particularly attractive to criminals and organised crime groups. It is globally connected, borderless, anonymous, fast, low-risk, easily accessible and has high volumes of rich data including financial data, personal information, military information and business information.

Three types of organised crime groups have been identified as operating in cyber space:

  • traditional organised crime groups that use information and communications technology to enhance their regular criminal activities
  • organised cyber criminal groups that operate exclusively online
  • organised crime groups made up of ideologically and politically motivated individuals who use information and communications technology to facilitate their criminal conduct.

The principal threat to Australia from cybercrime is from offshore. The threat is from temporary networks of people who collaborate even though they may live in different countries or even continents. This makes cyber crime activities inherently fluid and flexible.

Last updated
30 June 2016