The Australian legal system appears to be playing catch-up when dealing with increasingly complex cases of cyber crime. Frequently, attacks on individuals and companies span different countries, as data is solicited or stolen through phishing scams and viruses.
Cyber crime is personal – our smartphones and apps allow risky relationships to be established. Fake identities are often used by perpetrators of cyber crime. Set out below is information to help you understand and be wary of cyber crime.
Don’t be a cyber crime statistic
Incidences of Australian cyber crime are on the rise. According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), the number of reported attacks in 2014-15 increased to 11,733. But like most victims’ statistics, this is probably a fraction of total occurrences. While individuals are potential targets, organisations may be the greater risk due to their nature of operations, where confidential data is being collected on a much larger scale.
What constitutes a cyber crime attack?
The Cybercrime Act 2001 (Cth) amended the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) so that it is now a crime to:
- obtain unauthorised access, modify or impair data
- with an intent to commit a serious offence.
Individuals may be liable for unauthorised impairment of electronic communication, or for using a carriage service to cause offence through menacing behaviour or harassment. The penalties range from two years, to ten years in prison.
The advice of the ACSC is for individuals to be wary when sharing personal or company details. The focus is on prevention, with vigilance and personal responsibility emphasised. As soon as suspicions are raised, Australians are advised to report potential security breaches via the ACSC website, or ACORN – the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network.
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