Spam and Criminal Activity

Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice (Australian Institute of Criminology) 2016, No 52

RegNet Research Paper No. 2014/44

20 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2014 Last revised: 6 Dec 2016

See all articles by Mamoun Alazab

Mamoun Alazab

Cyber Security

Roderic Broadhurst

Australian National University (ANU); ANU Cybercrime Observatory

Date Written: September 3, 2015


The rapid growth of the internet is transforming how we engage and communicate. It also creates new opportunities for fraud and data theft.One way cybercriminals exploit the vulnerabilities of new technologies and potential victims is the use of deceptive emails on a massive scale.

In a sample of more than 13 million emails identified as spam, more than 100,000 contained malicious attachments; nearly 1.4 million contained malicious web links. If opened, these attachments and links could infect the recipients’ devices with software that allows cybercriminals to remotely access them.

This paper describes how crime groups increasingly adopt novel approaches to cybercrime. Increased law enforcement capacity, the cultivation of high-level coordination between industry, government and police, and the further development of machine learning techniques should be at the forefront of government initiatives in this area.

Keywords: cybercrime, spam email, spam analysis, Internet crime, cyber offenders, online offenders, online investigation

Suggested Citation

Alazab, Mamoun and Broadhurst, Roderic, Spam and Criminal Activity (September 3, 2015). Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice (Australian Institute of Criminology) 2016, No 52; RegNet Research Paper No. 2014/44. Available at SSRN: or

Mamoun Alazab

Cyber Security ( email )


HOME PAGE: http://

Roderic Broadhurst (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601

ANU Cybercrime Observatory ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200

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