Working from home during the pandemic rendered more individuals exposed to internet assaults, and Australia recorded a 13 percent increase in cyber crime in the last year, with approximately one in every four incidents targeting essential infrastructure and services.
In the 12 months leading up to June 30, 2021, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) received one cybercrime report every eight minutes, according to its annual report.
Hackers have shifted their emphasis to individuals working remotely online, and have taken advantage of the anxiety caused by COVID-19 to conduct espionage and steal money and sensitive data from vulnerable people and health services, according to Assistant Minister of Defence Andrew Hastie.
The number of ransomware assaults grew by about 15%, with the health sector reporting the second-highest number of attacks.
Ransomware encrypts victims’ data, and hackers usually provide them a password – or “key” – to decrypt it in exchange for cryptocurrency payments that can be in the millions of dollars.
“Violent cybercriminals are intensifying their attacks on Australians,” Hastie added.
Australia said in June of last year that it was being targeted by a “sophisticated state-based cyberactor,” with assaults aimed at all levels of government, political parties, and critical service providers. According to Reuters, Australia believes China is the main suspect, which Beijing denies.
The US and its allies, including Australia, accused China of a global cyberespionage campaign in July, calling it “a serious danger to our economic and national security,” according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Because many victims did not disclose to authorities, the ACSC statistics were only the “tip of the iceberg,” according to IDCare, which works with regulators to assist identity theft victims. It added that thus far in 2021, it has seen a 47 percent increase in complaints compared to 2020, which was a record year.
IDCare executive director David Lacey stated, “The overall signs are that it is not slowing and is likely to rise.”
“It’s a perfect storm for fraudsters; they love and flourish in these settings.”