Hackers are targeting Australia’s critical infrastructure, ATMs

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NAB ATMs
Customers withdraw money from National Australia Bank (NAB) Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) in central Sydney, Australia, July 24, 2015. Reuters/David Gray

One of Australia‘s most senior cyber crime investigators has warned that the country’s “critical infrastructure and systems of national significance” are being targeted by international hackers. The warning comes as international cyber security experts from Kaspersky Lab declared a surge in cyber attacks on Aussie institutions in various sectors like health, finance and transport.

Commander David McLean said cyber espionage is a Hollywood stuff and it is very real. The manager of the Australian Federal Police’s cybercrime operations spoke at the opening of CeBIT Australia in Sydney on Tuesday.

McLean said they have case work at the moment that involved a very high level of cyber espionage. He explained that was very destructive in an intellectual property sense.

Eugene Kaspersky, expert in the cyber security field, revealed his firm had been called in after hackers infiltrated the software on the ATMs of an Aussie bank, which he did not name. He said hackers were able to steal an undisclosed sum before US-based manufacturers managed to add a patch on the ATM to lock crooks out.

The cyber security expert notes the world loses up to $600 billion per year to cyber crimes.  It costs the Australian economy up to $17 billion every year. It is believed new types of ransomware are being created daily.

Kaspersky resorted to adding ATMs to the computers and smartphones in his cyber security labs. That way, he would be able to detect the number of malicious programs that are targeting the banking industry.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Government pledged that more expertise in the cybersecurity space would help residents get better access to safety and privacy. Philip Dalidakis, Victoria's Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade, said cyber security is an essential part of the future economy and would create jobs for Victorians while it protects businesses from crime.

Cyber Victoria, which include training and solutions for individuals and businesses , is expected to be launched over the coming months. It is part of Victoria efforts to become the first truly cyber ready state in the country, Cyber Brief Au notes.

McLean believes there may be some good to come from the WannaCry ransomware attack. “When I think about events like WannaCry, when I think about cyber security risks, I’m reminded of the public health campaigns of the late seventies and early eighties around skin cancer and ‘slip, slop, slap’ and the Grim Reaper,” news.com.au quoted him as saying.

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