Policing organised crime has become more complex because of an increase in "entrepreneurs" selling drugs, guns, child pornography and fake identification online, the Australian Crime Commission has warned.
And social media is being used by criminals to target law enforcement officials who may be corruptible because of their interest in martial arts or bodybuilding.
ACC chief executive officer John Lawler said the boundaries of crime fighting had changed because suppliers now had direct contact with buyers in a range of illicit markets.
He said it was unclear how many of these entrepreneurs were based in Australia, because "virtual marketplaces" were hard to track.
The ACC has estimated that organised crime costs $15 billion annually in its Organised Crime in Australia report, which will be launched on Wednesday.
"It really is all-pervasive," Mr Lawler said.
"In some ways it's difficult to understand where they are because one of the things they do in cyberspace of course is protect themselves . . . so it's very difficult to follow the trail."
Mr Lawler said it was common for the companies to rout IP addresses through developing countries to make it more difficult for them to be tracked.
Many operated in a "legislative arbitrage" where legislation had not caught up with offending, he said.
"Are our prosecutorial solutions here the best that could be applied?" he said.
"If you can't arrest and prosecute, what do you do to prevent the threat? One outcome is prevention, and the other is disruption."
The report found some of these operators could become as damaging as organised crime groups.
The ACC found that public sector officials were increasingly being found to have "inappropriate relationships" with criminals that could lead to corruption.
"Facilitating these relationships is the increasing use of social media sites by organised crime to initiate contact with public sector officials," the report found.
"This has been through sites based on similar interests - particularly relating to bodybuilding and kickboxing - or professional sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook, where public officials have included large amounts of personal details.
"Organised crime groups have used these details to initiate contact, which at first may appear to be within the context for interaction within these forums, but can be built upon to judge the potential for compromising the person."
The report will be released at Brisbane's International Serious and Organised Crime conference.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.