Australian healthcare system main cyberattack target, minister warns

More work needed to end "soft target" perception, minister says

Australian healthcare system main cyberattack target, minister warns


By Roxanne Libatique

The Home Affairs Minister Hon Clare O’Neil has warned the Australian healthcare system to brace for cyberattacks as it has become the main target of cybercriminals.

O’Neil said cybercriminals aim to obtain citizens’ personal data, emphasising that even though protecting people’s data was a “core national issue,” more work is needed to end Australia’s perception of “soft target.”

“The question is, are we tackling the cybersecurity threat with an energy level commensurate to which we’re being attacked? And I would say that we’re not there at the moment,” O’Neil said, as reported by Bloomberg.

The minister’s warning was released ahead of the international cybersecurity meeting to be held in Australia within months to discuss the growing global threat to cybersecurity.

Commenting on the recent cyberattacks in Australia, including communications giant Optus and medical insurer Medibank, O’Neil said: “We would be foolish to deny the fact that the exact same attackers – the same actors, same technology – are targeting countries around the world who are just like Australia.”

Australian healthcare sector warned to brace for cyberattacks

Aside from the home affairs minister, global firm Palo Alto warned hospitals, government services, and businesses to brace themselves for a more hostile cyber environment this year and discuss whether they would pay cybercriminals a ransom.

Security giant Sophos’s 2023 Threat Report released the same warning, noting that cybercriminals package ransomware and other malware tools into as-a-service offerings that novices can use to launch devastating cyberattacks.

Cyber security experts call for improving security

Scott Hesford, director of Solutions Engineer Asia Pacific at BeyondTrust, has called on local governments to improve access control as Australia continues to face significant security challenges.

“Without good system and data access and change permissions, it is hard to identify instances of misuse or abuse, and even harder to mitigate against these threats,” he said in a previous statement, as reported by Government News.

Meanwhile, cybersecurity researcher Mamoun Alazab suggested scaling up Australia’s cybersecurity investment to keep pace with crime.

“We focus so much on [Australia’s] offensive operation – we need to focus on the defensive operation,” he said, as reported by 3BA. “We are encouraging other … criminal groups to get together to prove us wrong, to cause more embarrassment.”

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