The new measures and a proposed amendment to surveillance legislation announced by the Australian federal government on October 13 follows a 60% increase in cyber attacks on Australian businesses and government agencies last year. According to reports, these invasions cost the economy about a billion dollars annually. The ransomware action plan would give authorities the power to confiscate or freeze financial transactions in cryptocurrencies linked to cybercrime regardless of the country of origin.
The government aims to update existing legislation to make it easier for authorities to attempt to recover crypto funds stolen by cybercriminals. Home Secretary Karen Andrews said the new measures were aimed at discouraging the targeting of Australian companies by international hackers. He added: “Our tough new laws will target this online crime and hit cybercriminals where it is most harmful: their bank balances.”
Dealing with stolen data and buying and selling malware used in ransomware attacks will also be criminalized. A multi-agency task force called Operation Orcus was formed last July to deal with ransomware attacks. Most of the attacks in Russia originated with the publication of malware such as REvil or DarkSide that encrypts or steals data and demands ransom in cryptocurrencies.
There have been several recent ransomware attacks on Australian targets including Uniting Care Queensland, Lion brewing company, Nine Entertainment, NSW Labor Party, Toll Holdings and BlueScope Steel. An attack on meat processing company JBS in May forced the closure of its 47 sites in Australia.