Is cybercrime replacing physical crime?

Summary:The Australian Institute of Criminology has found that while traditional crimes across the nation are falling in incidence, cybercrime is on the rise.

The Australian Institute of Criminology has found that while traditional crimes across the nation are falling in incidence, cybercrime is on the rise.

(Email Scam image by 05com, CC BY 2.0)

The institute's annual report (PDF), which was today released by the Minister for Home Affairs and Justice Jason Clare, showed that physical break-ins have halved since 1996, car theft has dropped by 61 per cent in the past 10 years and, overall, violent crimes decreased last year, with the exception of kidnappings and abductions.

However, on the online front, there has been a substantial increase in the number of compromised website notifications that the Australian Computer Emergency Response Team (AusCERT) received — up 255 per cent in 2010 from the previous year.

There was also a 296 per cent increase in the number of compromised host/computer notifications received by AusCERT over the 2007-10 period.

Compromised account notifications have showed a decline since peaking in 2008, but, according to AusCERT, this is due to attackers now using methods to protect stolen captured data, including passwords or encryption, indicating that it is becoming harder to detect when accounts are compromised.

Sites hosting malware also more than doubled between 2009 and 2010, increasing by 111 per cent, according to the report.

When it came to criminals making money from victims, advanced fee/up-front payment scams were the most commonly reported, accounting for 35 per cent of all scams, but were not necessarily the main source of illegal revenue, as only 11 per cent of victims stated that this was the type of scam they fell for.

Instead, dating and romance scams, which accounted for only 3 per cent of all scams, were where scammers made the majority of their money, with scammers conning 52 per cent of victims into parting with their money.

From the 6568 victims that reported losing money to any sort of online scam, the majority — 54 per cent — lost less than $1000. However, on the other end of the scale, there were four victims that lost $1 million or more, and 15 victims that lost between $500,000 and $1 million.

The report also found that despite the overall rate of fraud victimisation falling 11 per cent in 2009-10, compared to the previous reporting period, fraud on credit and charge cards continues to rise, increasing by 70 per cent since 2006 and outpacing traditional cheque fraud.

Topics: Security, Legal


A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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