A man types on a computer keyboard in this illustration image taken on February 28, 2013. — REUTERS/KACPER PEMPEL/FILE PHOTO
SYDNEY — Cyberattacks against Australia by criminals and state-sponsored groups have skyrocketed over the past fiscal year, with a government report released on Friday putting the attack at one every seven minutes.
The Australian Cyber Security Center (ACSC) received 76,000 cybercrime reports in the last financial year, up 13% from the previous period, according to its latest annual Cyber Threat Report.
While just over half of the attacks targeted individuals for fraud and theft, the report warned that state-sponsored attackers are making cyberspace a “battleground,” citing attacks by China’s Ministry of State Security, Iran and Russian state-affiliated groups.
Several attacks on key Australian services were foiled over the period, including an attack in November 2021 on state-owned utility CS Energy, responsible for a tenth of the country’s electricity generation.
“This is a huge wake-up call and businesses need to pull together… we need to do a lot better,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said at a news conference on Friday.
“The government has strengthened itself, the private sector must strengthen itself in the interests of its customers, but also in its own interests.”
The ACSC, part of the Signals Intelligence Collection Directorate, reported 95 cyber incidents affecting critical infrastructure during the past fiscal year.
The third annual report covers the period before high-profile hacks at Australia’s second largest telecoms company, Optus, owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. and its largest health insurer, Medibank Private Ltd., which together compromised around 14 million customer accounts.
The report underscored allegations that the Optus and Medibank hacks were relatively crude and blamed inadequate software updates for the majority of the major incidents.
Experts told Reuters last week a skills shortage is making it harder for Australia’s understaffed and overworked cybersecurity specialists to stop breaches.
Business losses attributed to cybercrime increased by an average of 14% over the period, with the average crime costing a small business A$39,000 ($24,540).
Rise in attacks and claims has insurers cautious and premiums in Australia up 56% yoy in second year
quarter, according to Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc. – Reuters