Cyber security gets $1.35b funding boost as scams rise

As the number of businesses and individuals impacted by cyber security breaches grows, the federal government has announced a $1.35 billion 10 year commitment to strengthen Australia’s cyber security through the Australian Signals Directorate and the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

The funding includes $470 million to beef up the cyber security workforce in Australia which will involve creating 500 new jobs at the ASD.

The funding announcement coincided with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announcing that in 2019 $634m was lost in cyber breaches, with $132m of that directly hitting businesses largely through email scams.

This year print companies have reported being impacted by an email scam with one printer, amongst others, losing a significant amount of money in an email scam.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said malicious cyber activity against Australia is increasing in frequency, scale and sophistication.

“The federal government’s top priority is protecting our nation’s economy, national security and sovereignty. Malicious cyber activity undermines that,” Morrison said.

“My government’s record investment in our nation’s cyber security will help ensure we have the tools and capabilities we need to fight back and keep Australians safe.”

The investment, known as the Cyber Enhanced Situational Awareness and Response (CESAR) package, will make it possible to identify cyber threats, disrupt foreign cybercriminals and build partnerships with industry and government.

The CESAR package has been designed to boost protection and cyber resilience for all Australians –  from individuals and small businesses.

It aims to do this by investing $31m to enhance the ability of the ASD to disrupt cybercrime overseas; $35m to create a new cyber threat-sharing platform which will enable industry and government to share intelligence about malicious cyber activity and and block emerging threats in near real-time.

It also includes $12m for mitigations and active disruption options which will enable the ASD and telecommunications providers to prevent malicious cyber activity by blocking known malicious websites and computer viruses at speed.

The investment also includes $118m to expand ASD’s data science and intelligence capabilities and $62m for a national situational awareness capability to enable the ASD to understand and respond to cyber threats on a national scale, including informing vulnerable sectors about threats most likely to impact them.

Print & Visual Communication Association CEO Andrew Macaulay called for all print business owners to remain vigilant about the scams, adding the association had also been subject to attacks.

“We urge all members to review their cyber security with their IT service provider immediately,” Macaulay said.

He also advised print operators follow these steps to remain protected:

  1. Install dual factor authorisation on all email accounts.
  2. Introduce personal checks in payment processes that require verbal staff interaction, not just email interaction.
  3. Ensure you have appropriate insurance.
  4. Continually update yourself on the types of scam that are going around.
  5. Do not trust any emails in the first instance.

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