Global Programme on Cybercrime

The complex nature of cybercrime, as one that takes place in the borderless realm of cyberspace, is compounded by the increasing involvement of organized crime groups. Perpetrators of cybercrime, and their victims, are often located in different regions, and its effects ripple through societies around the world. This highlights the need to mount an urgent, dynamic and international response.


According to General Assembly resolution 65/230 and Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice resolutions 22/7 and 22/8, the Global Programme on Cybercrime is mandated to assist Member States in their struggle against cyber-related crimes through capacity building and technical assistance.

Prior to the commencement of the Global Programme, UNODC's open-ended intergovernmental expert group was established to conduct a comprehensive study of the problem of cybercrime and responses to it by Member States, the international community and the private sector. This work includes the exchange of information on national legislation, best practice, technical assistance and international cooperation. You can read more about the study and follow-up meetings here.

The Global Programme on Cybercrime funded entirely through the kind support of the Governments of Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway, UK and USA.

Types of internet-related crimes

There is no international definition of cybercrime nor of cyberattacks. Offences typically cluster around the following categories: i) offences against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems; ii) computer-related offences; iii) content-related offences; iv) offences related to infringements of copyright and related rights.

Broadly, cybercrime can be described as having cyber-dependent offences, cyber-enabled offences and, as a specific crime-type, online child sexual exploitation and abuse.

  • Cyber-dependent crime requires an ICT infrastructure and is often typified as the creation, dissemination and deployment of malware, ransomware, attacks on critical national infrastructure (e.g. the cyber-takeover of a power-plant by an organised crime group) and taking a website offline by overloading it with data (a DDOS attack).
  • Cyber-enabled crime is that which can occur in the offline world but can also be facilitated by ICT. This typically includes online frauds, purchases of drugs online and online money laundering.
  • Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse includes abuse on the clear internet, darknet forums and, increasingly, the exploitation of self-created imagery via extortion - known as "sextortion".

What most people see online is only a small portion of the data that's out there on the "clearnet". Most search engines, for example, only index 4% of the internet. The Deep Web, which is defined as a part of the World Wide Web that is not discoverable by search engines, includes password-protected information - from social networks through to email servers. The Darknet is a collection of thousands of websites that use anonymity tools like TOR to encrypt their traffic and hide their IP addresses. The high level of anonymity in the digital space enables criminals to act without being easily detected.

The darknet is most known for black-market weapon sales, drug sales and child abuse streaming. The darknet is also, however, used for good - including enabling free speech by human rights activists and journalists.

Objectives & Geographic scope

The Global Programme is designed to respond flexibly to identified needs in developing countries by supporting Member States to prevent and combat cybercrime in a holistic manner. The main geographic nexus for the Cybercrime Programme in 2017 are Central America, Eastern Africa, MENA and South East Asia & the Pacific with key aims of:

  • Increased efficiency and effectiveness in the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of cybercrime, especially online child sexual exploitation and abuse, within a strong human-rights framework;
  • Efficient and effective long-term whole-of-government response to cybercrime, including national coordination, data collection and effective legal frameworks, leading to a sustainable response and greater deterrence;
  • Strengthened national and international communication between government, law enforcement and the private sector with increased public knowledge of cybercrime risks.