The opportunities for electronic crime are extensive and have been well-documented. There are two main categories of cybercrime:
- crimes in which information and communications technologies are the target of offences (eg computer vandalism and viruses), and
- crimes in which technologies are used as tools to commit an offence (such as computer hacking).
The second category has two levels of reliance on technologies: crimes which are enabled by technologies (a computer is required to commit the offence, such as 'phishing' - fraudulently acquiring sensitive personal information by pretending to be a trustworthy organisation) and crimes which are enhanced by technologies (computers make it easier to commit an offence, such as credit card fraud).
The Australian Institute of Criminology has undertaken extensive research into various forms of crime relating to the use of electronic communications and computing systems. Two major works have been the publication of Crime in the digital age and Electronic theft : crimes of acquisition in cyberspace, both major monographs on the risks associated with conducting business and other forms of communication in cyberspace. Numerous papers have been presented to conferences on cybercrime and electronic fraud, and various papers published in books and journals. The new opportunities for committing crime that are arising in the twenty-first century were discussed on several occasions including a paper on the risks associated with electronic voting procedures and a number of papers on defrauding government agencies electronically. The AIC's work in this area has received international recognition with researchers being invited to advise various government agencies in different countries around the world on electronic crime and its control. The AIC's work on electronic crime has also been used for teaching purposes with staff presenting material at various universities throughout Australia.