A ransomware taskforce representing 37 likeminded governments and chaired by Australia on Monday commenced operation, aiming to improve global cooperation on disrupting the lucrative cyber crime.
Agreed to in US-led cyber talks last November, the International Counter Ransomware Task Force (ICRTF) is being hosted within the Australian government’s Department of Home Affairs and its recently established Critical Technology Coordination Centre.
The CRTF is being touted as way of improving information and intelligence exchanges, sharing best practice policy and legal authority frameworks, and improving collaboration between law enforcement and cyber authorities.
The taskforce’s first operation was announced on Monday by Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security Clare O’Neil, who has set ambitious new cyber targets for Australia after a spate of ransomware attacks.
“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,” Ms O’Neil said in a statement.
“Recent cyber incidents in Australia and around the globe are a stark reminder of the insidious nature of ransomware, and the ability of cyber criminals to cause widespread disruption and harm to broad sections of the community.”
Australia already leads the CRI working group into disruption, a reflection of the mature capabilities at the disposal of the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Cyber Security Centre.
There are 37 members of the US-led Counter Ransomware Initiative which agreed to set up the taskforce. As chair of the ICRTF, Australia is now opening membership nominations for the countries.
“Ransomware represents a global threat, and Australia calls on other nations to be part of this global initiative to support effective detection, disruption and prosecution of cyber criminals who use ransomware for financial and other gain,” Ms O’Neil added.
In Opposition, Labor was highly critical of the previous government’s lack of action on combatting ransomware. Recent high-profile ransomware attacks, including the Medibank data breach, have underscored the threat.
Ms O’Neil on Monday said the new government’s cyber security strategy will look at more ways to “harden our nation so Australia becomes an unwelcome operating environment for cyber criminals”.
The national strategy will be key to achieving Ms O’Neil’s ambitious target to make Australia “the world’s most cyber-secure country by 2030”, along with new sovereign capabilities and a hardening of government systems and critical infrastructure.
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