Australian Cyber Security Centre targeting COVID-19 scammers

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) is increasing its fight against malicious cyber activity by protecting the Australian health sector, families and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the Australian Signals Directorate, through the ACSC, was engaging with hospitals and health-service providers right across the country.

“Hospitals and other health care providers are on the frontline in our fight against COVID-19 and that is why we are working directly with them to reduce their risk of cyber compromise during an already very challenging period,” Minister Reynolds said.

“The ACSC is also providing a second layer of defence in detecting malicious cyber activity on critical government department networks, including the Department of Health.

“By collaborating with industry, law enforcement and government partners, the ACSC is identifying and disrupting malicious cyber criminals offshore, who are launching COVID-19 themed cyber scams and phishing attacks against Australian families and businesses.”

ACSC Head Abigail Bradshaw said the centre saw first-hand the devastating impact of cybercrime.

“At the ACSC, we are absolutely committed to making sure Australians remain safe online and our vital services are protected,” Ms Bradshaw said.

“We are arming Australians, businesses and key sectors, like health and medical services, with information on the threats and practical assistance to enable them to better protect themselves against these global cyber criminals.”

Since 10 March 2020 the ACSC says it has:

  • received more than 95 cybercrime reports about Australians losing money or personal information to COVID-19 themed scams and online frauds;
  • responded to 20 cyber security incidents affecting COVID-19 response services and/or major national suppliers in the current climate; and,
  • disrupted more than 150 malicious COVID-19 themed websites, with assistance from Australia’s major telecommunications providers, as well as Google and Microsoft.

For the latest information and advice about how to protect yourself against COVID-19 themed malicious cyber activity, as well as securing remote working and web-conferencing solutions, visit www.cyber.gov.au.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: CONTACT is unaware of any legislation enacted that would allow the Australian Signals Directorate to operate domestically (please enlighten if we missed it) – though we are aware that the government is very keen to acquire these powers. It’s probably a fair bet that the government is using its special powers during the COVID-19 crisis to ‘prove the concept’, either as a test case to show the Australian public the ‘benefit’ – or as a thin edge of a wedge. Also, the fact that this is the second ‘positive PR’ press release on this topic this month, points to a concerted PR campaign to ‘warm the audience’ – and I feel somewhat used/dirty for playing their game, so felt compelled to add this note. I’m also saying this now as an “I told you so” for when it happens.

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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