Assistant Minister for Defence Andrew Hastie said the number of ransomware incidents reported to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) continues to increase, and Australians must take action to protect themselves.
Backing up data is one of the best defences against ransomware attacks conducted by opportunistic cyber criminals, according to the Department of Defence.
“Backups are one of the best ways to build resistance against ransomware, making it much harder for cyber criminals to hold Australians to ransom,” Mr Hastie said.
Ransomware attacks are hostile takeovers of data and computer systems by a cyber criminal who will then demand payment to restore the owner’s access.
A recent report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute argued that the policy vacuum in Australia regarding legislation around ransomware is contributing to making Australian businesses an attractive market for ransomware attacks.
Authored by Rachael Falk, CEO of the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre (CSCRC), and Anne-Louise Brown, CSCRC director of corporate affairs, the report holds that in addition to organisations strengthening their defences, policy updates and more transparency surrounding ransomware threats would help protect Australian businesses from becoming targets.
The latest release from the Department of Defence stresses the implications of falling prey to a ransomware attack, and urges businesses to take the risk seriously.
“In the case of ransomware, it may not be possible to recover data and get your business or projects back up and running without backups stored offline,” Mr Hastie said.
“Regularly backing up your data and keeping it off your network on a USB or in the cloud will make it faster and easier to restore your important files if they ever become lost, stolen or compromised.
“Your private and personal information — health, financial and valued photos — are at risk if they are not regularly backed up in a safe location.”
ACSC has a step-by-step guide to backing up your valuable data and information, along with tips on ransomware prevention, available at cyber.gov.au.
Mr Hastie also urged anyone who had been the victim of cyber crime to report it through ReportCyber, the government’s cyber crime tracking site that refers incidents to the appropriate police jurisdictions for assessment.