Email misuse by federal government workers for fraud purposes jumped by 44 percent between 2010 and 2014, new figures from the Australian Institute of Criminology show.
In the four-year period, the number of cases of fraud-facilitating email misuse climbed from 57 in 2010 to 82 in 2014.
In the intervening years, government agencies reported 23 and 25 cases respectively, putting the 2014 spike even higher, at 228 percent year-on-year.
The figures are drawn from the AIC's 'Fraud against the Commonwealth: Report to Government 2014' [pdf] released today.
Overall, the number of reported cases of insiders misusing technology to commit fraud within the federal government was relatively flat year-on-year.
Misuse of IT for fraud by government staff peaked at 1186 instances in 2010. However it declined to 698 in 2013 before climbing slightly to 710 in 2014.
Eleven government agencies reported being affected by IT-facilitated fraud in 2014, compared to 12 in 2013.
The number of all other incidents of internal fraud other than by IT - through identity misuse, misuse of documents, and corruption - decreased year-on-year.
The number of reported instances of misuse of IT by external actors jumped to 28 in 2014 compared to 19 the year prior. This category is the second least common form of fraud in the external category.
Respondents believed improving IT security made little difference in preventing fraud, the report found.
"New technologies bring new fraud risks for government. ICT has become fundamental to how society operates, and government use of ICT affects all Australians," the report states.
"Data collected and held by the government may include information about a person’s health, income, employment and education as well as information that may provide opportunities for fraud, such as address and date of birth, and photographs used on driver’s licences and passports.
"Such information is vulnerable to external threats as well as to corruption by insiders or the commission of internal fraud."
The AIC said more than 90 percent of the overall 391,831 reported frauds were allegedly carried out by members of the public. The federal government lost around $1.2 billion to fraud over the four-year period.