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Australian government warns of unrelenting cyberthreats

4/08/2015 by

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The government in Australia has spoken out about the threat of cybercrimes, with officials urging companies to do more to protect themselves. With the cyberthreat trend on the rise, in addition to becoming more difficult to defend against, it is essential that organisations take steps to protect themselves.

In a new publication collated by the Defence Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) Australia and the Australian Crime Commission, it was suggested that the annual cost of these threats is now over $1bn (£640m). In the inaugural Australian Cyber Security Centre report the growth of threats was also outlined. In 2011, for example, 313 attacks were reported to the ASD. This had grown to 1,131 for 2014, with CERT also responding to 11,073 business threats last year.

The co-ordinator of the Australian Cyber Security Centre, Clive Lines, explained that the findings of the new report showed an “undeniable, unrelenting” growth rate in the cyberthreat arena.

Five keys areas were highlighted as most at-risk: transport, defence, banking, energy and communications. The detection and response to threats in Australia has also become more difficult, as the threats are not only becoming more numerous but also increasingly sophisticated and varied.

One area of particular growth and worry is ‘cybercrime-as-a-service’. In this scenario, amateurs in cybercrime can hire others to commit attacks for them. The report went on to explain that a range of Australia’s systems have been negatively impacted by vulnerabilities such as Shellshock and Heartbleed. In one alleged attack an individual attempted to take advantage of the Heartbleed vulnerability over 360 times and gain access to 12 Australian servers.

The first issue of the report also warned that compromise and complacency are two options that “Australia cannot afford”. The consequences of poor cybersecurity defences, for example, can lead to financial loss, intellectual property threat, a damaged reputation and business disruption. “Organisations must move now to implement cybersecurity measures to make Australia a harder target, increase the confidence of Australians when they are online, and maximise the benefits of the internet for Australian organisations,” the report added.

The Australian government’s report on the issue shows that cybercrime has become a global issue that all businesses have to sit up and taken note of. Regardless of company size, it is crucial to take defensive steps so that firms are prepared if the worst occurs.

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