The threat of cyber crime is serious in Australia, with locals more likely to be hijacked by ransomware than anywhere else in the Asia Pacific region.
In the opening six months of 2017 alone, 23,700 reports of cyber crime have been made to the government. Numerous others have been left unreported, with mandatory breach reporting not due to come into effect until 2018.
It is a severe issue, and one the Australian Government is taking extremely seriously. Military-grade operations have been given the green light with an Australian Defence Force cyber warfare crack team formed to take down these criminals.
Who the criminals are targeting
Australia’s three million small businesses are the prime candidates for attacks from cyber criminals, the Australian Government’s Cyber Security Strategy update revealed this year.
The report said the criminals primarily originated from Eastern Europe and Russia, with many specialising in attacking Australians.
The report stated that the reason Australian businesses were desirable targets was because of our country’s economic prosperity and high adoption of technology.
What methods they are using
Ransomware is the most common cyber attack inflicted on Australians, where software is installed onto your device through a malicious email or other method and your files are consequently locked off from being accessed.
The criminal will then extort the individual or business for money to release the device.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said while the government had not been affected by WannaCry, Australian businesses had.
And he stressed the importance of making sure devices were properly patched to prevent this ransomware from taking hold.
“We have seen several impacts with respect to small businesses,” Mr Turnbull said.
“At this stage we haven’t seen the impact that they’ve seen, for example, in the United Kingdom.
“But it is very important that businesses and enterprises, whether they’re in the private or government sector, make sure those patches for the Windows systems that were made available in March are installed.”
How Australia is fighting back
The Federal Government has a mighty stick to ward off international cyber criminals in the Australian Signals Directorate.
Now, this operation has been authorised to expand its operations to attack rogue sources that are attacking civilians and businesses in Australia.
It is the same technology used against Islamic State terrorists, and Prime Minister Turnbull said it would allow Australia to take the fight to criminals offshore.
“The use of offensive cyber capabilities will add to the government’s arsenal and form part of our broader strategy to prevent and shut down safe havens for offshore cyber criminals,” he said.
There are many things businesses can do to help protect themselves as well, including the implementation of a cyber security incident response plan and investing in cyber insurance.
To learn more, consult the full Cyber Security Strategy annual update.