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The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission is concerned about cybercriminals who are trying to make a profit from everyday Australians.

Australia’s relative wealth and high use of technology such as social media, online banking and government services make it an attractive target for serious and organised criminal syndicates. Lucrative financial gains by serious and organised crime syndicates ensure the persistence of the cybercrime threat.

The Cyber Security Review, led by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, found that cybercrime is costing the Australian economy up to $1 billion annually in direct costs alone. Cybercrime is diverting funds from the legitimate Australian economy to the illegitimate economy. In addition to loss of money, cybercrime causes other damage including:

  • damage to personal identity and reputation
  • loss of business or employment opportunities
  • impact on emotional and psychological wellbeing.

Cybercrime describes crimes that are directed at computers or other information communications technologies, such as hacking or unauthorised access to data. Examples include ransomware and credential harvesting malware.

Ransomware is a type of malware that facilitates extortion. Like the majority of credential harvesting malware that we see, it usually infects a victim’s computer following the victim opening a malicious email attachment.

Following infection, ransomware locks a computer’s content and displays a message requiring victims pay a ransom to obtain a decryption key that will supposedly allow them to regain access.The emails delivering ransomware to Australian victims use the branding of trusted and well-known Australian corporations as part of its social engineering techniques.

Credential harvesting malware is designed to harvest a user’s credentials when they are logging onto a website. This is done completely covertly with the victim being unaware their credentials are being stolen. The malware that facilitates this harvesting is usually delivered to a victim’s computer or device via an email with a malicious attachment.

The principal threat to Australia from cybercrime is from offshore. Cybercriminals who are impacting Australian victims collaborate together even though they may live in different countries or even continents. This makes cybercrime activities inherently fluid and flexible.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission is the systems administrator of the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) website. The ACORN website provides resources on how to protect yourself online, and quarterly statistics which provide a snapshot of cybercrime trends. You can also find information and guidance on cybercrime via the following links:

Last updated
21 April 2017