Cyber crime

Information and communications technology (ICT) is an integral part of our daily lives. Whether people have a computer at home, use online banking services or simply receive electricity supplies, the community's reliance on technology is increasing. A safe and secure online environment enhances trust and confidence and contributes to a stable and productive community.

Government and business also take advantage of opportunities for economic development through increased use of information technology.

The AFP sees the increasing use and dependence on technology as one of the major influences on the domestic and international law enforcement operating environment.

What is Cybercrime?

In Australia, the term 'cybercrime' is used to describe both:

  • crimes directed at computers or other information communications technologies (ICTs) (such as computer intrusions and denial of service attacks), and
  • crimes where computers or ICTs are an integral part of an offence (such as online fraud)

Just as the internet and other new technologies are opening up tremendous possibilities, they also provide opportunities for criminals to commit new crimes and to carry out old crimes in new ways. On the evidence available, it is clear that the number, sophistication and impact of cybercrimes continues to grow and poses a serious and evolving threat to Australian individuals, businesses and governments.

Online, criminals can commit crimes across multiple borders in an instant and can target a large number of victims simultaneously. Tools that have many legitimate uses, like high speed internet, peer to peer file-sharing and sophisticated encryption methods, can also help criminals to carry out and conceal their activities.

The AFP is responsible for detecting, preventing, disrupting, responding to and enforcing cybercrime offences impacting the whole of the Australian economy. It focuses on investigating cybercrime threats against Commonwealth Government departments, critical infrastructure and information systems of national significance, with a key element being the banking and financial sector. The AFP is guided by Commonwealth priorities for combatting cybercrime.

In general, the investigation of fraud against an individual is a state police responsibility. However, where there is a crossover between the investigation of a fraud against an individual and the investigation of an organised attack against critical banking systems, the AFP will work together with the local jurisdiction and the banking and finance industry.

The AFP also works closely with State and Territory Police and international policing agencies in the fight against all types of cybercrime.

For the latest advice on the types of cybercrime currently impacting Australians visit the Australian Cyber Security Centre website.

Cybercrime law

Cybercrime offences are found in Commonwealth legislation within parts 10.7 and 10.8 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 and include:

  • Computer intrusions
  • Unauthorised modification of data, including destruction of data
  • Unauthorised impairment of electronic communications, including denial of service attacks
  • The creation and distribution of malicious software (for example, malware, viruses, ransomware)
  • Dishonestly obtaining or dealing in personal financial information.

Each State and Territory in Australia has its own legislated computer-related offences that are similar to the Commonwealth legislation as well as legislation which covers online fraud and other technology enabled crimes.

What to do if you believe you are the victim of cybercrime

IF THERE IS AN IMMEDIATE THREAT TO LIFE OR RISK OF HARM, CALL 000

If you or your business are a victim of a cybercrime, please report it in the first instance to the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

Online child abuse material

  • AFP online child sex exploitation form

    Do not use this reporting form to report emergencies or concerns which require a high priority response, such as a child who is in immediate danger or risk. In those cases call 000 or your local police station.

Visit the child protection page for more information.

Online abuse

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner provides a platform to report online abuse, including cyberbullying, image-based abuse, and offensive and illegal content.

More information and useful links

The Australian Cyber Security Centre

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) is the Australian Government's lead on national cyber security. It brings together cyber security capabilities from across the Australian Government to improve the cyber resilience of the Australian community and support the economic and social prosperity of Australia in the digital age. It possesses a comprehensive understanding of cyber threats, and provides advice and assistance to help Australians identify and manage cyber risk.

The ACSC includes staff from the Australian Federal Police and from the following agencies:

ACSC Joint Cyber Security Centres (JCSC) have opened in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide to bring together business and the research community along with State, Territory and Commonwealth agencies to enhance collaboration on cyber security. JCSCs are a critical hub for business and governments to improve their cyber security practices and share information in a trusted and secure environment.

The ACSC's website replaces a number of government cyber security websites and services.

For more information on the Australian Cyber Security Centre itself, visit the corporate page.

Stay Smart Online

Stay Smart Online is part of the Australian Cyber Security Centre, and provides simple, easy to understand advice on how to protect yourself online, as well as up-to-date information on the latest online threats and how to respond.

Stay Smart online provides advice on protecting yourself and protecting your stuff , as well as how to recover when things go wrong.

ThinkUKnow cyber safety program

ThinkUKnow logo

ThinkUKnow is an online education and prevention program that uses a network of trained volunteers to deliver online safety presentations to parents, carers and teachers on how young people use technology, the challenges they might face and how to get help and support if something goes wrong online. Presentations generally run for one hour, and are supported by a comprehensive website, thinkuknow.org.au that provides additional information and resources.

ThinkUKnow is a partnership between the AFP, Microsoft, Datacom, Commonwealth Bank and is delivered in collaboration with State and Territory police and Neighbourhood Watch Australia.

Scamwatch

Scamwatch is run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). It provides information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid, and report scams.

Office of the eSafety Commissioner

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner is committed to empowering all Australians to have safer, more positive experiences online. The Office was established in 2015 with a mandate to coordinate and lead the online safety efforts across government, industry and the not-for profit community.

Online Safety

For a comprehensive list of all the Australian Government Initiatives for Online Safety, please visit Online Safety.

National Security Hotline

Visit the AFP Futures Centre

The Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation

Platypus Online: Read. Discover. Enjoy.