High tech crimes, also known as hi-tech crimes, are defined in Commonwealth legislation within Part 10.7 – Computer Offences of the Criminal Code Act 1995 as specific computer related offences, such as computer intrusions, or, in other words, malicious hacking, unauthorised modification of data, involving destruction of data, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks using botnets, and the creation and distribution of malicious software, such as worms, viruses, Trojans. In Australia, each state and territory has enacted its own legislative framework that regulates computer-related offences. These frameworks resemble the Commonwealth legislation.
Computer intrusion is the first and foremost type of high tech crimes under Australia’s law. Australian statutes define computer intrusion as any unauthorised access to any computer or network of computers. The crime of computer intrusion may be manifested in different forms. Thus, it might take the form of hacking of free email services. The State or Territory police usually deal with the matters of hacking in cases when the perpetrator resides in Australia. In the majority of cases, Australian law enforcement agencies will be devoid of jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute cases of hacking when the perpetrator resides overseas.
Unauthorised modification of data, as well as destruction of data, constitutes another type of high tech crimes under Australian law. Australian statutes define denial-of-service as a deliberate impairment or disruption of a communication or service. Broadly speaking, in order for the Australian police to handle the issue of an unauthorised system intrusion, impairment or disruption, the system or computer server where the content in question is hosted (located) must be in the territory of Australia, or the perpetrator of the crime of disruption, intrusion or impairment must be an Australian citizen.
Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks using botnets have become most popular and annoying in present time. Briefly speaking, the DDoS attacks are carried out by means of botnets, malware, computer viruses and trojans. All these tools are purposed to gain the perpetrators an unauthorised access to a computer network or system in order to corrupt the network or make the computer system unavailable for external users. In Australia, it is incumbent on antivirus software and firewall providers to ensure efficient protection and uninterrupted functioning of the computer networks and systems that utilise the products of such antivirus software and firewall providers. However, if a DDoS attack takes place at home – a home computer is infected with malicious software (viruses, adware or spyware) – a targeted person may file a crime report to the State or Territory police at the place of his residence if the person believes that his computed has been intentionally infected with a virus or other malware and the person has evidence as to the identity of the perpetrator.
In elaborating further on the problem of high tech crimes under Australian law, it is also essential to note that, under certain circumstances, pop-up advertising on internet web-sites may be considered a high tech crime if it is not merely annoying, but also appear as a result of unknowingly having spyware and adware software installed on the targeted computer. Some licensed software has been specifically designed to defeat software and spyware, while certain browsers operate with built-in pop-up blockers.