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Online Harms

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What is Online Harm?

 Cyber crime is any criminal act dealing with computers and networks.”

Cyber crime is any criminal act dealing with computers and networks (called hacking). Additionally, cyber crime also includes traditional crimes conducted through the Internet.” Action fraud 


Cybercrimes take place online, which means they utilise computers (including laptops), tablets and mobile telephones. They can be crimes that use online devices to commit and target the crime, and those that are more traditional crimes that are increased in scale by using online devices.

The following are some of the more common cyber crimes:

  • Hacking – the unauthorised use or access to computers or networks, can be to steal money, information or to disrupt individuals and businesses.
  • Malicious software (Malware) – spread between digital devices to be destructive, causing system crashes, files to be deleted or data to be stolen. Common forms may include viruses, worms, spyware, ransomware and trojans.
  • Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks – are when multiple (often thousands) unique IP addresses are used to flood an internet server so that it overloads and either freezes or crashes.
  • The dark web – untraceable online websites frequently used by criminals to trade illegal items including personal data, drugs and firearms.
  • Phishing – gaining sensitive personal information by pretending to be a company, government agency or trusted organisation by tricking people into using a malicious website or installing malware on their device.
  • Identity theft – criminals gather enough information about a victim to take their identity and commit fraud. The personal details can be used to obtain documents such as driving licences or passports, open bank accounts or credit cards or take over existing accounts.
  • Intellectual property fraud – creating counterfeit goods to sell online, setting up and running websites claiming to be genuine. It includes streaming content owned by someone else, such as new cinema releases.
  • Trolling – the act of sending abusive and hurtful comments across social media platforms.
  • Online threats – making threats through social media which may include threats to kill, harm or to commit an offence against a person, group of people or an organisation.
  • Revenge porn – the disclosure of private sexual images without consent, through uploading intimate sexual images of another person to the internet to cause humiliation or embarrassment. It is a criminal offence to forward without consent a private sexual photograph or film. If it involves a child then see child abuse or child sexual exploitation.
  • Online harassment – repeated attempts to impose unwanted contact or communication that causes fear or anxiety (see stalking & harassment)
  • Grooming – building an emotional connection with a child or adult at risk to gain their trust for the purposes of  criminal exploitation or sexual exploitation.
  • Stalking online – a form of harassment which can be persistent and involves frequent unwanted interference, contact or following of an individual (see stalking & harassment).
  • Virtual mobbing – where a number of people or computer droids use social media, messaging (including emails) or other digital communication forms to make comments to or about an individual because they are opposed to that person’s opinion or a personal characteristic (see hate crime), the volume may amount to a campaign of harassment (see stalking and harassment)

According to the National Crime Agency, “Cyber crime continues to rise in scale and complexity, affecting essential services, businesses and private individuals alike. Cyber crime costs the UK billions of pounds, causes untold damage, and threatens national security.”

Help and Support

For victims, families and concerned people

If you’ve witnessed or been the victim of crime, please report it to the Police. Call 101 or report it online depending on your region within Wales – South Wales Police, Dyfed Powys Police, Gwent Police or North Wales Police. In an emergency, call 999.

If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, use the Police textphone service 18000 or text on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergencySMS service.

If you have information about crime and wish to remain anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online.

If you’ve been affected by crime, you can access support from Victim Support, including via their free 24/7 national support line 08 08 16 89 111, or get support online.

Police website for Fraud

Action Fraud website

National Crime Agency Information and advice

National Crime Agency

National Cyber Security Centre

Access the website

Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales

Visit the website

Victim Support

Access information and advice

Local Government Association

Access information on cybercrime reporting

Welsh Government

Wales embarks on journey to become a cyber-resilient nation

Crimestoppers information on cybercrime

Information and support including anonymous reporting