Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) – Get the low down

In case you didn’t know, as of November 2014 Australians can report a vast array of online criminal activities through a new one-stop website set up by the Australian government, known as the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN).

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said that the site will be a secure way for Australians to report the crimes, and will then allow the government to pass on the investigation to the relevant state or federal law-enforcement agency.

“No single jurisdiction can tackle it in isolation. It requires a coordinated national response.” he said at the CeBIT GovInnovate conference.

“The ACORN [will] collect and aggregate data on cybercrime in a way that is just not possible at present. The ACORN will better detect high-volume criminal activity. Law enforcement will be able to access a national picture about cybercrime. This will improve our tactical and strategic responses.”


What is the ACORN?

Cybercrime is an issue which affects many Australians. As Australia’s reliance on technology grows, the cost and incidence of cybercrime is expected to increase.

The Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) is a national policing initiative of the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments. It is a national online system that will allow the public to securely report instances of cybercrime. It will also provide advice to help people recognise and avoid common types of cybercrime.

The ACORN is a key initiative under the National Plan to Combat Cybercrime, which sets out how Australian agencies are working together to make Australia a harder target for cybercriminals. The ACORN has been designed to make it easier to report cybercrime and help develop a better understanding of the cybercrime affecting Australians. By understanding the enablers of cybercrime, we can make it harder and less rewarding to commit cybercrime.


What does the ACORN do?

The ACORN provides information on how to recognise and avoid common forms of cybercrime (such as hacking, online scams, online fraud, identity theft and attacks on computer systems) as well as advice for those who have fallen victim. It also makes reporting cybercrime easier and more convenient for all Australians.


Who is responsible for the ACORN?

The ACORN has been designed and will be delivered in collaboration with:

  • All Australian police agencies
  • The Australian Crime Commission
  • The Australian Attorney-General’s Department
  • The Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency
  • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
  • The Australian Communications and Media Authority and
  • CrimTrac

ACORN Police

What is cybercrime?

Cybercrime is any form of criminal activity done via computers and carried out through the Internet. It is the conscious exploitation of the Internet for the purpose of gain, slander or destruction.


Which offenses can be categorized under cybercrime?

Cybercrime has progressively become broader over the last few years due to the fact that technology has advanced in such a way that more and more cybercriminals have found ways to exploit it.

The more common cybercrime offenses are:

  • Identity theft – this is the deliberate theft of someone else’s identity including but not limited to:
    – personal information
    – financial information
    – other sensitive informationCybercriminals then use your information to conduct their own personal business over the Internet or sell them to other parties for profit.
  • Fraud – this describes any online activity with the sole purpose of misleading people for profit. A great example of this is the “Nigerian Prince scam.” Wherein individuals would receive emails from a purported prince in Nigeria asking them for help in moving his substantial fortune out of his country. You just have to initially fund this transaction as his account is currently tied up and unable to cover the costs. Unfortunately, those who have fallen victim to this scam have found themselves on the losing side, costing them up to the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Information for Ransom – this criminal activity is perhaps the most prevalent one today. This happens when cybercriminals send out emails that fool the recipient into clicking on a link within the email or opening an attachment that unleashes a malicious virus, which encrypts or locks all your data. You will then receive another email telling you to pay a certain amount of money for your data to be unlocked.


Is sending out spam considered an act of cybercrime?

The short answer is yes. Spamming is the act of sending unsolicited emails to various entities for the purpose of advertising products or services that the recipients have not subscribed to. However, there is still an ongoing debate whether all acts of spamming fall under cybercrime. This is where it gets tricky as cybercriminals are progressively finding legal loopholes to exploit.


Is there a definite set of cyber laws I can read?

The Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network or ACORN is Australia’s answer to cybercrime. It provides information on how to identify and protect yourself from common forms of cybercrime. To learn more, visit the ACORN website.


How much is Cyber Crime costing Australians?

A graphic by SecurePay, Australia’s leading online payment gateway, shows five million Australians have fallen victim to online crooks . Some simple security steps could help protect online and mobile users from cyber crime:

Cybercrime SecurePay

Report a Cybercrime

The Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) is a secure reporting and referral service for cybercrime and online incidents which may be in breach of Australian law. Certain reports will be directed to Australian law enforcement and government agencies for further investigation.


What can I report on the ACORN?

Common types of cybercrime include hacking, scams, fraud, identity theft, attacks on computer systems and illegal or prohibited online content. Click here to learn more about cybercrime.


How do I make a report?

Visit and fill out the online form. Provide as much detail as possible so ACORN can best process your report. You should keep any relevant information about the incident in case police contact you. This could include emails, screenshots or any other evidence kept.

You should not provide any personal financial details when reporting. You should not report on a device which you think might be infected by a virus. Shortly after you submit your report, you will receive a confirmation email with a unique ACORN reference number if you provide your email address.

Please be aware that not all reports to the ACORN will be referred or investigated. However, your report will be treated seriously and will help our law enforcement and government agencies to develop a clearer picture of cybercrime trends which affect Australians. While the ACORN accepts anonymous reports, the site logs IP addresses of all reports received. This is to ensure that malicious reporting can be detected and acted on.


What can I do to protect myself from cybercriminal activity?

  • Always be vigilant.
  • Do not open email attachments from senders you are not familiar with.
  • If you did not enter it, you didn’t win it. Emails telling you you’ve won monetary prizes from a contest that you don’t remember entering are definitely fraudulent emails.
  • Make sure that you have antivirus and malware-stopping programs installed.
  • Never give out sensitive information over the Internet.
  • Make your passwords as strong as possible. Do not use relative information like birthdays, phone numbers, anniversaries or even pet names.
  • Remember, once something is out on the Internet, it is out there forever (well, sort of). Be mindful of what you send out or publish online.


Last but not least…

Get in touch with us if you have any concerns regarding spam or malicious network activity and we will gladly carry out an assessment of your network.