Australia’s lead agency for identifying and fighting cyber threats to Australia has reported an increase in reports to its cybercrime hotline and online in the last financial year.
In its Annual Cyber Threat Report for 2022-23, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) says calls to its Australian Cyber Security Hotline increased by 32 per cent to 33,000 last year. Its Australian Cyber Security Centre received more than 94,000 reports of cybercrime, an increase of 23 per cent.
The agency responded to more than 1100 cyber security incidents. It says more than 10 per cent involved ransomware attacks which can lock down a network or threaten to destroy or reveal sensitive data unless a ransom is paid.
The report states the average cost of cybercrime per reported incident rose by 14 per cent from the previous year, to $71,600 for large businesses, $97,200 for mid-size businesses and $46,000 for small businesses.
A 15 November Defence Department release stated the report illustrates the persistent threat state cyber capabilities pose to Australia. “It also shows that cybercrime remains a major threat to Australians, as cybercriminals continue to adapt their destructive tactics to extract maximum profit from their crimes,” it read.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles said recent global and national events demonstrated the growing threat to Australia by “malicious cyber actors”.
“The Annual Cyber Threat Report demonstrates how governments, businesses and critical infrastructure networks have been targeted by state and non-state actors, with the aim to destabilise and disrupt,” he said in the release.
“The report underscores the importance of ASD’s work in defending Australia’s security and prosperity and reinforces the significance of the Albanese Government’s investment in ASD’s cyber and intelligence capabilities under Project REDSPICE.
“We know that the best cyber defences are founded on genuine partnerships. The development of this report, which draws on insights from across the Commonwealth Government, our international partners, Australian industry and the community, is a testament to this collaboration.”
During doorstop questioning at Parliament House, Mr Marles said ASD was seeing a much greater interest on the part of the state actors in Australia’s critical infrastructure.
“Which is why we’re investing so heavily in the Australian Signals Directorate, a $10 billion dollar investment over 10 years, which really doubles the size of ASD to make sure we’ve got our cyber defences in place in a time when the cyber threat is growing.”
Monash University’s Professor Nigel Phair said ASD continued to see substantial increases in cybercrime.
“This has been a consistent pattern for a number of years now and will continue to increase until Australian organisations start putting more effort into cyber security and the risk management of their information assets.
“The cost of these cyber attacks is also increasing, resulting in greater harm to businesses and individuals. Cybercrime remains one of the biggest threats to Australian organisations as cyber criminals continually adapt their tools and techniques for greater success.
“Australia needs more tertiary qualified cybersecurity professionals working to support the government and the private sector to protect against these increasing cyber threats.”
In related news, the new National Cyber Security coordinator, Air Marshal Darren Goldie has been recalled to Defence to deal with a workplace matter, and Department of Home Affairs Deputy Secretary of Cyber and Infrastructure Security Hamish Hansford is reportedly acting in the role in the interim.