Australia’s Ransomware Action Plan Summary

On 13th October 2021, the Minister for Home Affairs announced The Australian Government’s Ransomware Action Plan. The plan forms part of the Government's cyber security vision to create a more secure online world for Australians and Australian businesses. 

The Ransomware Action Plan outlines current and new initiatives and legislative changes and details a roadmap for Australia’s measures to combat ransomware in the years to come. In this article, we’ll summarise the plan, detailing key initiatives and what they mean for Australian businesses. 

Key Initiatives to Combat Ransomware

The Ransomware Action Plan is a multi-pronged approach to combat ransomware. It is being funded by a $1.67 billion investment over 10 years, which will help the Government in its efforts to build new cybersecurity and law enforcement capabilities, protect essential services, assist businesses in defending themselves and raise cyber awareness within the community. Some of the key initiatives within the plan include:

  • Ensuring cybercriminals who use ransomware face higher maximum penalties by introducing a stand-alone aggravated offence for all forms of cyber extortion. 
  • Introducing a stand-alone-aggravated offence for cybercriminals targeting critical infrastructure to ensure they also face increased penalties. 
  • Criminalising the act of dealing with stolen data knowingly obtained through a separate illegal offence, again leading to increased penalties. 
  • Making the buying or selling of malware for the purpose of engaging in cybercrime illegal.
  • Modernising existing legislation, ensuring that cybercriminals can’t benefit from stolen money and giving law enforcement the power to track and seize financial transactions in cryptocurrency. 
  • Developing a mandatory ransomware incident reporting program to gain insights and build a fuller picture of the ransomware problem in Australia.
  • Providing technical cybersecurity advice from the Australian Cyber Security Centre on how to prepare for and respond to ransomware attacks. 
  • Providing $6.1 million for support services through IDCARE, Australia’s national identity and cyber support service, to help victims of cybercrime.
  • Offering a free Cybersecurity Assessment Tool to help small and medium businesses improve their security.
  • Improving the volume of skilled cyber professionals through the Cyber Security National Workforce Program.

What The Plan Means for Australian Businesses

The Ransomware Action Plan clearly states the Government’s position on the payment of ransomware. That is, they do not condone it and, instead, want to prioritise education, support and deterring ransomware attacks. The Government wants to protect the community through new criminal offences, tougher penalties, and mandatory reporting in the event of a ransomware attack. 

Mandatory reporting requirements for companies with a turnover of over $10 million per annum, is one of the biggest changes for businesses. The exact reporting procedure and fines for non-compliance are yet to be confirmed. However, the aim of the reporting regime isn’t to issue fines but hopes to augment understanding of ransomware, how to react, and the support that is available. 

With the reporting regime in place, Australian businesses will have access to increased threat intelligence. They can then leverage this key data about ransomware to tailor their defence strategies, prevent attacks and ultimately improve their security postures.

Protecting Your Business from Ransomware

The release of the Ransomware Action Plan will help build upon Australia’s fight against cybercrime. However, with a 15% increase in ransomware attacks over the past 12 months, Australian businesses are at a greater risk than ever. 

When it comes to defending against ransomware attacks, you need a defence in depth strategy, secure back-ups, and a solid incident response plan. If you need help with formulating a well-rounded strategy or would like to assess your current plan, reach out to the experts at InfoTrust today. 

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