hackers and bots

Author: Nyman Gibson Miralis

Subject: Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN)

Keywords: Cybercrime, ACORN, hacking, malware, denial of service attacks, cyber-bullying, Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth)


ACORN was an initiative created by Australian, state and territory governments. The service addresses cybercrime by allowing individual Australians to report any cyber security incident.

Common types of cybercrime reports relate to hacking, scams, fraud, identity theft, attacks on computer systems and illegal or prohibited online content.

On top of this, it provides information on how to recognise risks, remain secure and avoid common types of cybercrime.


How does ACORN define Cybercrime?

Cybercrimes are crimes that are directed at computers or other devices and where that computer or device is integral to an offence. ACORN recognises that the effect of cybercrime on victims is not always financial, but can also affect privacy. Below are some of the issues that ACORN looks into.


What is an Attack on Computer Systems?

An attack on a computer system can occur in many ways, the most common of which include:

Unauthorised access or hacking: when a person gains access to your computer without permission. Usually they will change passwords to prevent you from accessing email, banking or social media accounts.

Malware: This is software used to monitor your activity and can be downloaded in emails or through suspicious links. The software can take the form or a virus, worm, spyware, trojan or bot.

Denial of service attacks: These type of attacks do not generally involve access to computer systems but rather aim to flood a computer or website with data so that it overloads and fails to function properly.

Threat and Extortion: These are scams which are harmful software placed on a computer which results in loss of data or prevents you from accessing files and programs unless payment is made.


What is Cyber-bullying and Stalking?

Cyber-bullying occurs when a person is offensive, menacing or harasses another through the technology. Not all bullying is criminal and Australian laws apply to serious online harassment and bullying behaviour.

Stalking offences occur when a person is persistent in their course of conduct against the victim with the intention of making them feel fearful, uncomfortable, offended or harassed through an online medium.


What is Prohibited Offensive and Illegal Content?

Internet content is regulated under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth). The office of Children’s eSafety Commissioner has the power to take down prohibited offensive and illegal content hosted in Australia. This is content that would be classified X18+ or RC (refused classification).

Prohibited offensive online content will usually be depictions of sexual activity between adults, videos showing high-impact violence, footage detailing offensive sexual practices and material providing detailed instruction in crime.

Illegal content is unlawful to possess, produce or distribute and includes child sexual abuse material or child exploitation material and material advocating a terrorist-related act. It is also an offence to procure, groom or engage in sexual activity with a person under 16 years of age or to send indecent communication to a person under 16 years of age.


What to do about Identity Theft?

This type of theft occurs when someone accesses your personal information to steal money or gain a benefit. The things to look out for include, ‘phishing’ which is a scam where the cyber-attacker asks for personal information either over the phone or internet and generally pretends to be a genuine business or government body. If you think you are a victim of identity theft, inform the police and report the incident to your bank or financial institution.


What are the concerns with Online Trading?

Some scammers target people who buy, sell or trade online. Some examples include:

-advertisement of products for sale which are never sent when purchased
-overpaying a seller and then requesting the amount to be repaid back into their account in an attempt to launder money
-issue bills to individuals and businesses for a particular service


Addressing Online Scams or Fraud

There are many scams which revolve around prizes. They usually inform you about having won an item or monetary amount and require you to send personal information to claim the prize. Dating and romance scams play on emotional triggers before requesting money, gifts or details.


Reporting to ACORN

In order to make a report, you will need to visit the ACORN website and follow the ‘report’ tabs. You will need to provide as much detail as possible and keep any relevant information about the incident in case police contact you such as emails and screenshots.


Nyman Gibson Miralis specialise in dealing with complex national and international cybercrime investigations. Our expertise includes dealing with malware, phishing and computer hacking offences, bootlegging and tripping, Bitcoin and crypto-currency fraud, as well as offences relating to identity theft, spreading computer viruses and DDoS attacks. If you require assistance, contact one of our expert defence lawyers