On the offensive against COVID-19 cyber criminals


Cyber experts from the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) are cracking down on offshore cyber criminals who are targeting Australian households and businesses through devious scams and attacks.

Telecommunications firms have also been engaged to block and takedown malicious websites.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the ASD has mobilised its offensive cyber capabilities, to disrupt foreign cyber criminals responsible for a spate of malicious activities during COVID-19.

“Cyber criminals that are using the cover of cyberspace and international borders to target Australians are not beyond our reach,” Minister Reynolds said.

“We are hitting back through the Australian Signals Directorate, who have already successfully disrupted activities from foreign criminals by disabling their infrastructure and blocking their access to stolen information.

“Some of these cybercriminals have even posed as health officials in an attempt to exploit vulnerable Australians, by infecting their computers with malware and stealing their private information.”

ASD Director-General, Rachel Noble PSM said cyber criminals are expected to continue targeting Australians through their COVID-19 themed malicious activities.

“Our offensive cyber campaign has only just begun and we will continue to strike back at these cyber criminals operating offshore as they attempt to steal money and data from Australians,” Ms Noble said.

The ASD’s Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) is taking further action to mitigate and disrupt COVID-19 related cyber scams, working closely with Australia’s telecommunications providers to block access to websites identified as malicious.

The ACSC is also working with web-browser companies Google and Microsoft to have the websites flagged as malicious, to ensure web-users are warned about these sites before they are able to visit them.

“Close cooperation with telecommunications and IT companies is vital in providing increased protective barriers for Australians from these heartless cyber criminals,” Ms Noble said.