(Australian Associated Press)
Australia’s cyber security agency responded to more than 1630 incidents in the past financial year.
While fewer cyber threats were reported compared to the year before they had a more considerable impact, with a higher proportion being placed in the “substantial” category.
The change was influenced by an increase in cyber attacks against large organisations including data theft, extortion and taking services offline.
The Australian Signals Directorate also received about 500 ransomware reports and responded to around 160 cyber security issues.
Hackers use ransomware to lock people out of their computer and demand money to restore access to their personal documents.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has flagged forcing large companies with a turnover of more than $10 million to report ransomware attacks.
The federal government is also considering creating new stand alone offences including for cyber extortion and the targeting of critical infrastructure.
Dealing with stolen data knowingly obtained in the course of a separate offence would be criminalised as would the buying or selling of malware for criminal purposes.
The Australian Cyber Security Centre, based within the ASD, launched the “Act Now, Stay Secure” campaign at the end of last year.
The first stage of the campaign focused on telling Australians how they could protect themselves from malware and ransomware attacks.