Australia ranks 34th on world-first ‘cybercrime index’


The inaugural ‘World Cybercrime Index’ compiled by an international team of researchers based at the University of Oxford has identified the top geographical hotspots where cybercrime originates, with Australian coming in at 34th.

Conducted as a joint partnership with UNSW Canberra and published in the Plos One journal, the research found Russia at the top of the list, followed by Ukraine, China, the USA, Nigeria and Romania. The UK also ranked eighth on the index.

The index was formed from a survey of 92 top global cybercrime experts who were asked to consider five major categories of cybercrime, including technical products/services (such as malware), attacks and extortion, data/identity theft (such as hacking or phishing), scams (such as business email compromise or online auction fraud) and cashing out/money laundering (such as credit card fraud); identify the countries they consider to be the highest sources of each of these types of cybercrime and then rank each country according to the impact, professionalism and technical skill of its criminals.

“The research that underpins the Index will help remove the veil of anonymity around cybercriminal offenders, and we hope that it will aid the fight against the growing threat of profit-driven cybercrime,” Co-author of the study, Dr Miranda Bruce from UNSW Canberra, said.

“We now have a deeper understanding of the geography of cybercrime, and how different countries specialise in different types of cybercrime.

“By continuing to collect this data, we’ll be able to monitor the emergence of any new hotspots and it’s possible early interventions could be made in at-risk countries before a serious cybercrime problem even develops.

“For the first time we have reliable data on the location of cybercriminals, and we also have a way to measure their impact. Government agencies and private enterprises tasked with tackling cybercrime now have a much better understanding of the scale of the problem in their own backyard.

“Up until now, you had to be an experienced cybercrime investigator to know where cybercriminals actually live, but now we can share that information with the public, governments and businesses. It means that we now have a much clearer picture of the extent of the problem and can target our efforts in the right direction.”

Fellow co-author of the study, Associate Professor Jonathan Lusthaus from the University of Oxford in the UK, said the index is another step forward in strengthening and streamlining efforts to combat cybercriminal activity.

“Due to the illicit and anonymous nature of their activities, cybercriminals cannot be easily accessed or reliably surveyed.

“They are actively hiding. If you try to use technical data to map their location, you will also fail, as cybercriminals bounce their attacks around internet infrastructure across the world.

“The best means we have to draw a picture of where these offenders are actually located is to survey those whose job it is to track these people.”