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Australian government considers ban on ransom payments to hackers

  • A new law is being considered to ban companies from paying ransoms to hackers.
  • Cybersecurity Minister Claire O’Neill says long-term reforms on data protection are needed as the volume of cyberattacks increases.
  • This comes after the announcement of a new police operation involving the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Signals Directorate.
It may soon become illegal for companies that have suffered a data breach to pay ransoms to hackers.
Home Affairs and Cybersecurity Minister Claire O’Neill confirmed the government is investigating whether new legislation is needed to stop ransom payments following the Medibank and Optus data breaches.

O’Neill said cybersecurity reform needed short-term success following the massive hack, while other long-term outcomes were being considered, such as banning ransom payments.

This follows the government launching a high-tech police operation targeting the network of hackers behind the Medibank attacks that stole medical histories and customer personal information.
O’Neill told ABC, “What we think about the reform agenda is a series of quick wins, things that can be done quickly, and standing up for a new policing is one of them. is,” he said. Insider on Sunday.
“There are some very big policy issues that we have to think about and consult, and we will do so in the context of cybersecurity strategy.
“We will consider (making ransom payment illegal).”

O’Neill said Medibank was right not to pay the ransom demanded by the hackers.

Increase in volume of cyberattacks

Federal police confirmed on Friday that Russian criminals were behind an attack on Australia’s largest private health insurer.
A permanent cybercrime operation of 100 police officers targeting hackers will be led by the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Signals Directorate.
“This is Australia standing up and fighting back,” O’Neill said.
“We are not going to sit still while our citizens are treated this way and prevent the consequences.
“We will aggressively seek out these people and hunt them down and weaken them before they attack our country.”

The minister said that due to the high number of cyber-attacks, the response to cyber-attacks needs to be improved.

Agencies like the NAB were subject to 50 million attacks a month, and tax offices were subject to 3 million attacks a month, she said.
“I don’t think anyone can promise that cyberattacks will go away. One thing people need to understand is how unrelenting this is,” she said.
“We have to adapt our whole approach and our whole way of thinking about this new type of crime.”
Approximately 500,000 health claims were stolen along with personal information as part of the Medibank breach.
An insurance company has created a one-stop-shop for mental health and other support services that affected customers can access through their website.
O’Neill said companies need to increase the security of their data.

“This is a national vulnerability for us and what we need to make sure is that companies only keep data for as long as it is actually useful, otherwise the data is destroyed.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/ban-on-ransom-payments-to-hackers-considered-by-australian-government/goe6qprrm Australian government considers ban on ransom payments to hackers

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