Australia sees 13% increase in cybercrime reports as COVID-19 pushes more people online

A hooded man holds a laptop as a cybercode is projected on him in this illustrative photo taken on May 13, 2017. REUTERS / Kacper Pempel / Illustration

SYDNEY, Sept. 15 (Reuters) – Australia has seen a 13% increase in cybercrime reports in the past year, the government said on Wednesday, with around one in four incidents targeting critical infrastructure and essential services , as many are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australian Cyber ​​Security Center (ACSC) received a cybercrime report every eight minutes for the 12 months through June 30, 2021, with a record number of Australians working remotely online during the pandemic, a he said in his annual report published on Wednesday.

Hackers have pivoted to exploit COVID-19 and are actively targeting vulnerable people and health services to carry out espionage and steal money and sensitive data, Deputy Defense Minister Andrew Hastie said in a statement communicated.

Ransomware incidents increased by almost 15%, with the healthcare industry reporting the second highest number of attacks. Ransomware works by encrypting victims’ data, and hackers typically offer a key in exchange for cryptocurrency payments of up to millions of dollars.

“Malicious cybercriminals are stepping up their attacks on Australians,” Hastie said.

In June last year, Australia declared it was the target of a “sophisticated state-based cyber actor”, with attacks targeting all levels of government, political parties and vendors. essential services. Sources told Reuters Australia viewed China as the prime suspect, which Beijing had denied.

The United States and its allies, including Australia, in July this year accused China of a global campaign of cyberespionage, which Secretary of State Antony Blinken said posed “a major threat to our economic security. and national ”. Read more

Report by Renju José; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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