Australia has launched the International Counter Ransomware Task Force, a new initiative aimed at combatting ransomware news attacks. The Task Force is a part of the US-led Counter Ransomware Initiative, which includes 37 governments, said the official announcement.
According to the Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security, Clare O’Neil, the Task Force will facilitate sustained and effective international collaboration to disrupt, combat, and defend against the growing threat of ransomware. She also urged other countries to join the effort.
“Ransomware represents a significant global threat, and Australia will continue to play a leading role working with international partners, industry and the community to develop effective responses to combat cyber criminals and protect our people and institutions,” Minister O’Neil said.
Australia and ransomware attacks
Australia has been a hotspot for cyber attack in 2022, particularly ransomware news attacks on some major targets since June 2022.
After Australian telecommunications company Optus was hacked in October, the federal government decided to reform and enhance the country’s cybersecurity infrastructure.
The Albanese government in November passed the Privacy Penalty bill, dramatically hiking the penalties for severe and repeated privacy breaches in companies to up to $50 million.
The Medibank crisis peaked in November, with the company deciding not to pay ransom.
Coincidentally, the agreement on the International Counter Ransomware Task Force was approved by members of the Counter Ransomware Initiative at a meeting in Washington in the same month.
Minister O’Neil stated in the statement that Australia’s new Cyber Security Strategy will look for ways to make the nation less attractive to cyber criminals.
Australia and global support against ransomware attacks
As part of the present offensive, Australia also opened Task Force membership nominations to Counter Ransomware Initiative partner nations.
The members of the Counter Ransomware Initiative include: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Ukraine, and the EU.
UK’s NSCS was one of the first to join hands with Australia, along with the FBI and the NSA from the US, in what later became the international defence group.
“Ransomware remains one of the most disruptive cyber threats to organisations and individuals. This global problem requires a global solution. That is why the ACSC is joining with our US and UK partners to issue this advisory, providing a coordinated global response to counter these cyber threats,” Abigail Bradshaw, Head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre, said in the announcement then.
“With our NCSC-UK, ACSC, FBI, and NSA partners, we urge organizations to review this advisory, visit stopransomware.gov to take action to strengthen their cybersecurity posture, and report unusual network activity or cyber incidents to government authorities,” CISA Director Jen Easterly said.