Australia, in the face of increasing ransomware attacks, is considering making it illegal to pay off those behind these attacks. The country’s largest health insurer and its second-largest telecoms company have, in recent months, had their data locked up. That’s not the whole list, of course. Several other entities have suffered ransomware breaches recently.
Ransomware, in case you missed the introductory classes, is when an outside party breaks into a system, encrypts it and demands money to give the data back. When it’s done to an individual user, as it was initially, it’s often possible to suck up the loss and move on. When done on a country scale, like in Australia, paying the money is often the easiest route.
Australia’s feeling a little down (under)
But this is only the case in terms of convenience. Ransomware attacks continue to escalate for a variety of reasons. Mostly, though, they continue because they’re lucrative. The Australian government, according to the country’s home affairs minister Clare O’Neil, is looking to put a stop to that. Making ransom payments illegal is a very American approach. You know, that whole ‘We will not negotiate with terrorists’ meme.
That’s not the only step the antipodean country is taking to tackle cybercrime. There’s a new cybercrime initiative in the works that pairs up the Australian Federal Police and the country’s Signals Directorate. Basically, internal law enforcement and the Aussie spies who listen to what other countries have to say will team up to perform “…new tough policing” on cybercrime. We’re sure that will never spill over into egregious surveillance of the country’s general population.
The general idea does make sense. Cybercriminals continue to encrypt systems around the world because they make money from the crime. If paying those ransoms was illegal, there may be less incentive to perform the act. Or maybe Australian companies, desperate to resume operations, will turn themselves into criminals so they can continue working.