‘Rich’ Australia vulnerable to cyber attacks

‘Rich’ Australia vulnerable to cyber attacks

“Most organisations don’t know that they are actually under attack,” Ms Price told The Australian Financial Review Infrastructure Summit.

“What we do know on the ground in the cyber industry is that for every one incident that is reported through to authorities, particularly in the federal government, there’s at least nine that are not being reported.”

Nursing homes

The very real effect of cyber attacks on digital infrastructure was shown by the damage to charity UnitingCare Queensland in April, when the operator of nursing homes and hospitals suffered an attack that rendered its systems unusable and led to a seven-week process to regain access to its systems.

In what Ms Price said was a “pretty typical” type of attack, the charity opted to pay a ransom in the hope of getting its system back. It is not illegal to do so in Australia, unlike some others. The ransom amount paid is not publicly known.

“They had no back-ups to their systems, which means that they had no ability to activate their business continuity plan in being able to recover from the incident,” Ms Price said.

“So they made the decision at a board level that if they didn’t pay the ransom to be able to hopefully get access to their data again, that they actually might suffer really significant damage.”

The two main groups in volume were nation states, so countries and governments of other countries, as well as organised criminal gangs or syndicates, she said.

“Increasingly what we are seeing is, of course, criminal gangs being hired by nation states, to be able to steal information on their behalf to try and suffocate their behaviour at the nation-state level,” Ms Price said.

“But, of course, the criminal syndicates are seeing the opportunity to make twice the amount of money by handing over the information for the fee that they’re getting paid for by the country. And then also leaking that information out into the dark web and selling it off to the highest bidder.”

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