ACSC Annual Cyber Threat Report Confirms Cyber Crime Is On The Rise


Staff Writer

The latest Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) Annual Cyber Threat Report reveals over 67,500 cybercrime reports occurred over the 12 months to June 30, or one every eight minutes. That is an increase of nearly 13% on the previous year.

Released on Thursday, the report notes that the increasing frequency of cybercriminal activity is compounded by their operations’ increased complexity and sophistication. Malicious actors were also keen to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As Australia’s dependence on the internet for work, information, access to services, or even just to stay in communication has increased as a consequence of the pandemic and lockdowns, so too has the threat surface increased enormously,” says Abigail Bradshaw, Head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

In addition to the pandemic, the report identifies five other key cyber security threats and trends over the last year. They include the disruption of essential services and critical infrastructure, the rise of ransomware, rapid exploitation of security vulnerabilities, supply chain threats, and business email compromise incidents.

Reported losses from cybercrimes in Australia over the last year totalled AU$33 billion. Fraud, online shopping scams and online banking scams were the top reported cybercrime types. More than 75% of pandemic-related cybercrime reports involved Australians losing money or personal information.

Vaccine scams and hacking attempts on health providers were prominent pandemic-related cybercrimes. The ACSC received approximately 1,500 cybercrime reports per month related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The exploitation of the pandemic environment largely is largely from criminals but also state-backed actors utilising tactics like spear-phishing to target people who are seeking information or a service,” said Ms Bradshaw.

The Assistant Minister for Defence, The Hon Andrew Hastie MP, says cyber is the new battleground.

“Malicious cybercriminals are escalating their attacks on Australians. The health sector reported the second-highest number of ransomware incidents, right at a time when Australians are most reliant on our health workers to help us respond and recover through the pandemic.”

Minister Hastie says the Australian Government works hard to keep Australia secure from cyberattacks, citing boosted resources, new legislation, increased awareness campaigns, and counter cyber offensive operations.

But Shadow Assistant Minister for Cybersecurity, Tim Watts, says the Annual Cyber Threat Report is a wake-up call for the Government. Mr Watts says ransomware remains the most serious cyber threat facing Australian businesses, with ransomware attacks up 15% on the previous year.

“The Morrison Government never misses an opportunity for a dramatic press conference on cyber security. It has missed every opportunity to take the basic actions needed to combat the urgent threat of ransomware despite growing warnings.

“Experts have been telling the Morrison Government to tackle the urgent threat of ransomware for months, but still it hasn’t acted.”

However, Andrew Hastie says cybersecurity is a top government priority. Minister Hastie says boosting Australia’s cyber defences is a team effort that involves government, organisations, businesses, and individuals. The Minister encourages all cybercrime incidents to be reported to the ACSC.