Gov't reveals cyber attack in Australian businesses is rising

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A magnifying glass is held in front of a computer screen in this picture illustration taken in Berlin May 21, 2013. Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski

The global malware attack has reached Australians, the government confirmed. The number of Aussie businesses hit has risen to three, although authorities assure that Australia is not severely affected by the incident.

Cyber Security Minister Dan Tehan declared that three Australian businesses were affected by the unprecedented ransomware attack. But he said the country was safe from the major impacts of the attack, which was believed to be the same thing as the one that reached thousands of computer systems in the UK in an extortion plot.

Based on initial reports, only one Australian business was hit by the cyber attack. Tehan told ABC on Monday the number of affected businesses in the country rose to three. “We are obviously continuing our investigations but it does seem the figure has gone from one to three,” he said.

Tehan urged Australians to be aware that ransomware steals around a billion dollars from the Australian economy every year. The minister did not name the first Australian business affected by the ransomware attack, but hinted it was not “a government organisation or a hospital or anything like that.” He said authorities were monitoring if New Zealand was affected to give Australia an early warning, but have seen no cause for concern so far, adding that the attack was a good reminder for Aussies to ensure they did everything to be safe from cyber attack.

Alastair MacGibbon, special adviser to the prime minister on cyber security, said the country’s critical infrastructure had not been affected by the incident. He advised the public to report any suspected ransomware attack to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network.

“This should be a wakeup call for us,” he told ABC radio this morning. To learn more about ensuring safety from such type of attack, MacGibbon said people must visit the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop previously said authorities were working to validate if reports of cyber attacks in the country were linked to the global attack. reports the minister told reporters in Cairns that the challenge was that there were various instances of ransomware in Australia every week and authorities were currently seeking to confirm whether these are the same thing that hit the United Kingdom.

Bishop said departmental level, government level and departmental heads must take necessary steps since it was something they were aware about, Sky News reports. He stressed that they have obtained knowledge of it when they had incident with the Census, thus there must be no excuses.

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