Cybercrime defined

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What is cybercrime?

The RCMP defines cybercrime as any crime where a cyber element (that is, the internet and information technologies such as computers, tablets or smart phones) has a substantial role in the commission of a criminal offence. Under this broad lens, the RCMP breaks cybercrime into two categories:

  • Technology-as-target
  • Technology-as-instrument


The crime can only be committed using computers, networks and digital devices.

Common charges include:


  • Using malicious software ("malware") to illegally access computer systems
  • Hacking to steal sensitive data such as personal identifiable information (for example, passwords and banking information)
  • Denial of service attacks to disrupt online services


The Internet and information technologies play an instrumental role in committing the crime.

Common charges include:


  • Online scams and fraud, such as phishing and identity theft
  • Online illicit marketplaces ("darknet markets")
  • Intellectual property infringements
  • Money laundering

Other important cybercrime terms

A software created to damage a computer, server or network. It can cause damage to systems and/or allow the cyber attacker to gain unauthorized access.
A type of malware that encrypts user data and demands ransom for it.
A phishing attack using SMS (text messaging). A scammer may impersonate someone you know or pose as a service you use (for example, your internet or mobile provider) to request or offer an update or payment.
A name or screen name that a user will go by.
Advanced persistent threat
A cyberattack in which a person or group gains unauthorized access to a network and remains undetected for an extended period.

Reporting cybercrime

If you have been a victim of cybercrime, fraud or scams, please report it to:

  • your local police
  • the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) using their Online Reporting System or by phone at 1-888-495-8501


If you didn't fall victim but experienced a cybercrime, fraud or scam, you should still report it to the CAFC.

Reporting is critical as it helps law enforcement to combat cybercrime. It also helps identify connections across separately reported cybercrime incidents, such as links to organized crime.

The CAFC and the National Cybercrime Coordination Unit (NC3) are working on implementing a new cybercrime and fraud reporting system for Canadians and businesses.

For critical infrastructure organizations, government departments and agencies, and IT security practitioners, you can also report cyber incidents to the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCCS). By reporting to CCCS, you are helping them develop cybersecurity advice, guidance and services.

More resources

For more information on cybercrime and how to protect yourself, visit:

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