Criminologists say cybercrime has been rising during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Experts from the Australian Institute of Criminology have published a pre-COVID-19 snapshot of the cost of 'pure cybercrime' in 2019, which shows it cost the local economy about $3.5 billion - $1.4 billion spent on prevention costs, $1.9 billion in money directly lost by victims and $597 million spent dealing with the consequences of victimisation.

‘Pure cybercrime’ activities include hacking, spreading viruses and other malware, and distributed denial-of-service attacks. 

While this involves crimes against machines and networks, it is estimated other forms of cyber-enabled identity crime cost Australian government agencies, individuals and businesses additional sums of more than $3 billion a year.

The survey estimates that about 2.8 million Australians were hit within the past year.

“Pure cybercrime is a highly profitable criminal activity and results in substantial financial losses to Australians,” says Flinders University Professor Russell Smith, who also warns of a potential rise in online fraud as a result of opportunities for dishonesty created by COVID-19-related economic disruptions.

“On current information, as cybercriminals become more sophisticated, it's clear the need for additional expenditure on prevention will need to increase.

“Equally, it is imperative that the financial harms associated with cybercrime are assessed so that resources for prevention and response activities can be targeted most effectively, and a baseline can be developed against which to measure the impact of future policy responses,” Professor Smith says.