Aussie organised crime hasn't gone online

Australia's organised crime groups are not responsible for high-tech crime, with most attacks still coming from overseas, according to the Australian Crime Commission.

Australia's organised crime groups are not responsible for high-tech crime, with most attacks still coming from overseas, according to the Australian Crime Commission.

Crime

(Crime Scene image by Alan Cleaver, CC2.0)

"There is limited evidence that Australian-based organised crime groups are directly attacking computers and computer systems," the Commission noted in the Organised Crime in Australia 2011 report (PDF) released today.

"The principal threat to Australia from high-tech crimes remains offshore. Criminal groups are moving away from traditional methods of infecting victims' computers through spam emails. Instead they are using what appear to be safe websites and environments which in fact contain embedded malware."

Identity crime is on the rise with card skimming the most popular identity crime, the commission said.

"The theft and use of identification data from financial transaction cards is now considered a prominent feature of the identity crime market. If chip and personal identification number (PIN) technology is more widely operational in Australia by 2013 it will reduce card skimming," the report noted. "Identity crime is likely to increase in the future."

Australia's love of the social networking site Facebook also offers organised crime groups information that can be used in identity theft.

"The large volume of personal information on social networking sites such as Facebook provides an opportunity for organised crime groups to obtain data and create identification documents for criminal purposes. Criminals have access to a range of options through information and communications technology systems to obtain or produce high-quality and low-cost fraudulent identity documents," the commission said.

Smartphones also increase the danger of exploitation by crime groups.

"The convergence of mobile phone and internet applications gives criminals an increasing array of possible targets and capabilities. Regardless of the method and devices employed, a serious denial of service attack on computer systems that control a key piece of infrastructure used in the banking and finance, light and power or telecommunications sectors could have devastating consequences."

What has encouraged international organised crime to go online, according to the report, is the perception that high-tech crime is easy to get away with because the criminals work out of many countries, which due to complex international laws makes it difficult to enforce or catch perpetrators.

"Many online offenders are offshore and their associations may be temporary, remote and physically intangible. They operate in an environment of multiple international internet service providers, complex international law and divergent legal requirements of countries whose citizens they target."

Educating the public through government initiatives such as the Federal Government's Cyber Security Strategy and Protect Yourself Online campaigns were key to combating cybercrime, the report noted, as well as a collaborative approach to enforcement between Federal, state, territory and international law enforcement agencies.