ASD offensive operation targets foreign cybercriminals


An Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) operation has targeted offshore cybercriminals conducting COVID-19 related malicious activities.

In a statement, Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said “This operation has protected hundreds of Australians and thousands more foreigners from organised and sophisticated foreign cybercriminals.”

“These cybercriminals have been targeting Australians through COVID-19 themed SMS phishing campaigns that are designed to trick Australians into downloading advanced criminal malware onto their mobile phones.

“ASD is using its offensive cyber capabilities to attack the cybercriminals’ tools – disrupting their operations and interrupting their ability to exploit Australians.

“In doing so, ASD has successfully disrupted the business model of key foreign cybercrime syndicates targeting Australians and exposing potential victims to significant financial losses.”

Supported by intelligence reporting from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, ASD acted after it identified the business model adopted by the sophisticated criminal syndicates.

The Australian Federal Police supported this operation by collaborating with its international law enforcement partners – demonstrating the effectiveness and importance of close working relationships among Australia’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton said the Morrison Government is committed to protecting Australians from foreign cybercrime syndicates.

“The threat and impact of foreign cybercriminals has been amplified through malware developers selling or renting out their products through the dark web, making high-end hacking tools more accessible to criminals lacking in technical sophistication,” Minister Dutton said.

“We can’t sit by while a marketplace exists for sophisticated cybercrime tools to be used against Australians.”