Cybercrime explained

Cybercrime involves the use of computer systems, the internet or networked devices to commit crime. Cybercriminals target individuals, businesses, institutions, and governments for financial, personal, or political gain.

Common types of cybercrime

Malware attack

Malware is a software designed to harm and exploit a computer system or network. Cybercriminals can use malware to steal your sensitive information, delete your files, damage or disable your computers, networks, and mobile devices. Common types of malware are ransomware, viruses, worms, trojan, rootkit, keyloggers, spyware, scareware and adware.


Phishing is fraudulent emails, text messages or phone calls from cybercriminals that appear to come from a reputable source. Phishing messages usually contain links to malicious sites or infected attachments that install malware on a computer system or mobile device. Cybercriminals can use phishing messages to steal sensitive information such as credit card, bank account and login details or to install malware on a device. Some types of phishing are spear phishing, deceptive phishing, whaling and pharming.

Ransomware attack

Ransomware is a type of harmful software also known as malware. Ransomware is used by cybercriminals to extort money by holding the victim’s device or data to ransom. The attacker often threatens to leak or sell the confidential data if the ransom is not paid.

Identity theft

Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information and use it for fraudulent activity. Cybercriminals can use your personal details to apply for a credit card, passport, open a bank account or set up a utility service in your name.


Hacking refers to unauthorised access of digital devices, such as computers systems, networks, tablets, or smartphones. Hackers can use various software to access an individual’s sensitive information, identity, and privacy without their knowledge.

Online scams

Online scams are criminal activity carried out by scammers using the internet. Scammers can use various ways such as phone calls, emails, social media and SMS messages, to defraud unsuspecting individuals or take advantage of them. Some common online fraud are card fraud, extortion scams, online shopping scams, romance scams, tax scams, investment scams, and job scams. 


Sextortion is a form of sexual exploitation that involves blackmail, threats or harmful online behaviour. Sextortion is intended to extort nude or sexual images, money, personal information or sexual favours. Fraudsters can lure victims into performing sexual acts online and use the footage to blackmail them. 


Cyberbullying refers to repeated online behaviour intended to hurt, embarrass, or humiliate someone. Cyberbullying could be abusive text messages or emails, sharing or posting embarrassing pictures or videos on social networking sites like Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram. A cyberbully can be someone you know or a stranger.


Cyberstalking refers to abusive online behaviour intended to harass, intimate, scare, control or manipulate an individual, group or organisation. Cyberstalking may include unauthorised access of a person’s computer, online account or network, sending constant emails or text messages, false accusations, defamation, monitoring, identity theft, threats, or vandalism.

Image-based abuse

Image-based abuse also known as revenge porn involves recording or sharing sexual images or videos of a person without their consent. It also includes threatening to take or share explicit pictures or videos of another person. Perpetrators of image-based abuse could be hackers, intimate partners, ex-partners, family members, friends, and colleagues.


Cryptojacking is a cybercrime that involves the unauthorised use of someone else’s computer processing power and resources to mine cryptocurrency. Cybercriminals can hack into your computer system, laptop, tablet, or smartphones to install cryptomining malware. This harmful software can mine for cryptocurrencies or steal your cryptocurrency wallets.

What to do if you’re a target of cybercrime

It is important to keep calm and act quickly to minimise further harm. If life is in danger, please call emergency services on 000. For support, go to our Help Centre section for specific steps to follow based on your situation.