A report on the effectiveness of the government\u2019s Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) reveals the initiative has made little difference to the number of victims reporting cybercrimes and no change in the public\u2019s awareness on where best to report such crimes.\nThe ACORN website was established to receive reports of cybercrimes from victims, provide the information to law enforcement agencies and give general crime prevention advice to the public and \u201cwas expected to become a vital tool that would improve the reporting, gathering and analysis of data to combat cybercrime in Australia\u201d.\n \nIt was launched in 2014 as part of the Attorney-General\u2019s Department'sNational Plan to Combat Cybercrime by then Minister for Justice Michael Keenan.The system was touted as a \u201crevolutionary new online system for all Australians\u201d which would allow victims to \u201creport criminals in real time\u201d.\n \n\u201cThe ACORN represents a revolutionary new model \u2013 a national commitment \u2013 to work together to ensure a safer and more secure digital environment for all Australians,\u201d Keenan said at the time.\n \nSince its launch police and members of the public have \u201crequested improvements\u201d to ACORN, around \u201creporting, the underlying business rules for referrals, and management of reports\u201d, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), the body responsible for ACORN, told CIO Australia.\n \nFollowing this feedback, the government\u2019s crime research agency, the Australian Institute of Criminology was commissioned by CrimTrac to evaluate ACORN in 2016.\n \nThe resulting report was made public yesterday following a year of freedom of information requests from Queensland University of Technology criminology lecturer Dr Cassandra Cross.\n \nThe evaluation found that ACORN had little to no effect on cybercrime reporting rates \u2013 one of its main aims.\nThe report also reveals ACORN to have made \u201clittle change in terms of public awareness\u201d around cybercrimes. In some cases victims reporting cyber bullying, sexting, online harassment and stalking to police were told to report it again to ACORN \u2013 \u201cif anything, it may have created some confusion and impacted levels of satisfaction among victims\u201d the report says.\n \nFewer than a third of victims reporting to ACORN were satisfied with the outcome. \n\u201cThere was evidence that cybercrime victims who reported to the ACORN were less satisfied than cybercrime victims who reported to police through more traditional modes,\u201d the evaluation states.\n \nThe initiative was also found to be a strain on resources for police agencies and \u201chas largely shifted responsibility for referring reports between business areas and agencies, rather than reduce the time spent by law enforcement referring reports\u201d.\n \nThe evaluation\u2019s authors wrote that a number of issues with ACORN stemmed from the fact the Commonwealth had been responsible for developing the reporting tool, but it is down to state and territory policing agencies to receive, handle and act upon the information.\n \nA number of limitations of the ACORN reporting system were also noted, including \u201climited interoperability with police information systems, the format of reports produced, the amount of information that is collected and the capacity of the system to automatically group reports over time\u201d.\n \n\u201cThis evaluation has shown that, while the ACORN has met its objectives from a process perspective, there remain problems for both victims of cybercrime and law enforcement agencies that engage with the system,\u201d the report concludes.\n \nACIC says it had been scoping out potential enhancements to address the issues raised in the evaluation two years ago.\n \n\u201cAfter this evaluation was produced the ACIC began to look at possible enhancements to the ACORN system. We have been working with our partner agencies and stakeholders to scope these possible enhancements,\u201d a spokesperson for the commission said.\n \nOne single place to report\n \nIn 2015, ACORN received 39,492 reportsabout cybercrime, with around half relating to online fraud and scams. In 2016, 49,957 reports were received, with slightly fewer \u2013 49,224 \u2013 received in 2017. So far this year (to June) 27,876 reports have been made.\n \nA number of victims of cybercrime told the ABC in 2016 that their reports to ACORN were ignored. One individual, recruited to be an ambassador for the service in 2015, told the ABC that they felt reports go \u201cinto a black hole\u201d.\n \nIn August the government announced it would be replacing ACORN with a new website, cyber.gov.au, which is operated by the Australian Cyber Security Centre, under the Australian Signals Directorate.\n \n\u201cThis important step will provide businesses and individuals with one single place to report cybercrime and find advice on cyber security practices,\u201d the government said in a statement at the time.\n \nAt present, the cyber.gov.au website is referring victims of cybercrime to ACORN.\n \n\u201cThe ACIC will continue to support the ACORN as its administrator until its cybercrime reporting function transfers tocyber.gov.au,\u201d the spokesperson for ACIC added.