While technological advancements benefit society, they also provide new opportunities for criminals. Australia and other countries face significant challenges in preventing, detecting and prosecuting these computer-based crimes.


What is cybercrime?Cybercrime and Computer Crime

The term “cybercrime” refers to a range of crimes involving the use of technology. Most cybercrimes fall into one of two types:

  • Crimes against computers or other digital devices. Examples include hacking and denial-of-service attacks.
  • Crimes where computers or other digital devices are used to commit traditional crimes. Examples include internet fraud and laundering money through digital currencies.


Types of cybercrime

Common types of cybercrime include:

  • Internet fraud – any type of fraud scheme perpetrated through use of the internet.
  • Phishing – when a cybercriminal attempts to steal confidential information through fraudulent emails.
  • Online piracy – copyright infringement through bootlegging, ripping or torrenting.
  • Identity theft – a cybercriminal accesses someone’s personal information without their consent, to gain benefits or steal money.
  • Digital currency-related offences – criminals often exploit aspects of digital currencies such as greater anonymity, to facilitate crimes.
  • Computer hacking – the identification and exploitation of weaknesses in computer systems and computer networks.
  • DDoS attacks and botnets – overloading the processing capability of a target by sending massive amounts of data in a short period of time.
  • Malware and ransomware – malicious software, which can be used to block someone’s access to their data until they pay a ransom.


Cybercrime under transnational criminal law

Cybercrime is transnational by nature and is not restricted by international borders. It is in the global interest for all countries to cooperate in the fight against cybercrime.


The Budapest Convention

The Convention on Cybercrime of the Council of Europe, also known as the Budapest Convention, is the first binding international instrument addressing cybercrime. It serves as a guideline for national legislation against cybercrime and as a framework for international cooperation between signatory parties.

The Budapest Convention aims to:

  • Harmonise cybercrime offences across all domestic criminal jurisdictions.
  • Provide the procedural powers needed to investigate and prosecute offences.
  • Establish an effective framework for international cooperation between signatory nations.

The Budapest Convention is currently signed by 66 countries around the world. Although it is a European treaty, any country can join upon invitation. Australian signed the Budapest convention in 2012. This allows for more efficient information sharing with partner agencies.


International Investigations

As a result of the Budapest Convention and other treaties, the investigation and prosecution of cybercrime is becoming increasingly international, often involving multiple international law enforcement agencies.

Individuals and businesses may become the subject of parallel criminal investigations and prosecutions. This raises complex jurisdictional and procedural issues.

The threat of exposure to penalties outside of the jurisdiction where you live or operate is real.


Cybercrime under Australian Law


Commonwealth legislation

Cybercrime offences are criminalised under parts 10.7 and 10.8 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) and include:

  • Unauthorised access to, or modification of, restricted data: section 478.1(1).
  • Unauthorised impairment of electronic communication: section 477.3(1).
  • Using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence: section 474.17.


NSW legislation

Each State and Territory also has its own computer crimes that are similar to the Commonwealth legislation. Common offences under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) are set out under part 6 and include:

  • Unauthorised modification of data with intent to cause impairment.
  • Unauthorised impairment of electronic communication.
  • Possession of data with intent to commit a serious computer crime.
  • Unauthorised access to restricted data.

State legislation also criminalises the use of technology in traditional crimes. Under Section 308C of the Crimes Act, using a computer to commit a serious indictable offence carries the same maximum penalty as the offence itself.


An evolving landscape

Australian cybercrime law is constantly evolving to keep up with new threats, often raising complex international jurisdictional questions.

Nyman Gibson Miralis reviewed the key cybercrime laws applicable to Australia in the International Comparative Legal Guide to Cybersecurity 2022.


Frequently Asked Questions

What experience do you have with international cybercrime cases?

We have vast experience representing individuals and corporations in global cybercrime cases. This involves upholding international law principles and protecting human rights.

Our expertise includes:

  • Dealing with law enforcement requests for information from foreign jurisdictions.
  • Challenging potential extradition.
  • Advising and appearing in cases where assets have been restrained and confiscated worldwide.

Which law enforcement agencies investigate cybercrime in Australia?

The agencies that investigate cybercrime in Australia include:

  • State Police.
  • Australian Federal Police (AFP).
  • Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
  • Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).

What is the Australian Cyber Security Centre?

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) is the lead Australian agency on cyber security incidents, reporting, awareness and policy recommendations. It also coordinates the intelligence efforts of several national policing agencies.

Where can I report cybercrime?

While you can report to the local police, you can also report cybercrime at ReportCyber. This is a government initiative that also provides advice on recognising and avoiding common types of cybercrime.

How can we help?

We provide expert advice and representation in complex international and national cybercrime investigations.

Book a consultation or call us on 1300 668 484 if you require assistance.

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