Australia is a highly connected country—technology and the internet are crucial to Australia's way of life and realising the benefits of the digital economy.

While the potential of the internet and digital economy clearly represents a significant opportunity for Australia, it is also quickly emerging as a key enabler for criminal activity.

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

  • crimes directed at computers or other information communications technologies (ICTs) (such as hacking and denial of service attacks)
  • crimes where computers or ICTs are an integral part of an offence (such as online fraud, identity theft and the distribution of child exploitation material).

Responsibility for combating the different forms of cybercrime in Australia is shared between Australian Government agencies and state and territory agencies.

If you need to report cybercrime to law enforcement agencies, visit the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) website or contact your local police station.

Criminal offences

The Commonwealth has enacted a comprehensive set of offences to address cybercrime, contained in the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Criminal Code). These offences are based on model laws agreed to by Commonwealth, state and territory governments in 2001. The offences are consistent with those required by the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime and are drafted in technology-neutral terms to accommodate advances in technology.

Key Commonwealth offences are contained in Part 10.6 and Part 10.7 of the Criminal Code, which contains offences criminalising the misuse of telecommunication networks, ‘carriage services’ (a term which includes the internet and online services, as well as wired and mobile services) and computers.

The Commonwealth computer offences are complemented by state and territory laws which criminalise the misuse of data and computer systems.

National Plan to Combat Cybercrime

On 19 May 2017, the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council agreed to the development of a new National Plan to Combat Cybercrime to ensure a stronger national approach to tackling the increasing risks to business and individuals posed by cybercrime.

The National Cybercrime Working Group will develop the plan in consultation with the Australian Government, state and territory agencies, as well as industry partners and non-governmental organisations. The plan is due to be finalised and submitted to relevant ministerial councils in April/May 2018.

In 2013, the Australian Government published the first National Plan to Combat Cybercrime. The plan contained key priorities for development and further action including through educating the community, collaborating with industry and building capacity and capability of law enforcement agencies.

Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network

The Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) is a national policing initiative of the Australian, state and territory governments.

The ACORN website provides the public with an easy and secure way to report cybercrime, and information about how to recognise and avoid common types of cybercrime. It will help develop a clearer picture of the types of cybercrime affecting Australians, to ensure that agencies’ responses are as effective as possible.

The ACORN was a key initiative under the 2013 National Plan to Combat Cybercrime. By understanding the enablers of cybercrime, we can make it harder and less rewarding for people to commit cybercrime. To learn more about the ACORN and how to report cybercrime, watch our online video and visit the ACORN website.

The ACORN was designed and delivered in collaboration with:

  • all Australian police agencies
  • Attorney-General's Department
  • Australian Communications and Media Authority
  • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
  • Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency
  • the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (formerly consisting of CrimTrac and the Australian Crime Commission).

National Cybercrime Working Group

In 2010, the National Cybercrime Working Group was established by the then Standing Council of Attorneys-General to facilitate a national response to cybercrime and advise relevant Council of Australian Governments’ ministerial councils.

The group comprises representatives from state and territory police and justice agencies, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency. The group will oversee the development of a new National Plan to Combat Cybercrime.

Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime

Cybercrime is a global problem which requires a coordinated international response.

Australia has acceded to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime. The convention is the leading, binding international instrument directed at cybercrime, to which a number of other countries are also parties including the United States, Japan and many European countries. The convention came into force for Australia on 1 March 2013.

The objectives of the convention are to harmonise domestic legal frameworks on cybercrime, provide for domestic powers to investigate and prosecute cybercrime, and establish an effective regime of international legal cooperation.

Accession to the convention also helps improve the ability of our agencies to work effectively with their overseas counterparts in responding to cybercrime.

Contact details

National Cybercrime Working Group

Related link

Related websites