Protecting yourself from Cyber attacks

I move:

That this House:

(1) notes:

(a) a number of Australian businesses have been impacted by cyber-attacks including by ransomware in 2021; and

(b) ransomware is a common and dangerous type of malware employed by cyber-criminals that can affect both individuals and organisations, and cause severe damage to reputation, and business bottom lines;

(2) records its concern at the impact and frequency of cyber-attacks on Australian individuals and businesses;

(3) further notes the significant investment by the Government of $15 billion in cyber and defence capabilities, including $1.35 billion through the Australian Signals Directorate/Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), to keep Australians safe online;

(4) recognises the important work done by the ACSC providing advice and technical support to individuals and businesses affected by cyber incidents;

(5) urges all Australians to implement good cyber hygiene measures across their home and business networks; and

(6) encourages all Australians to visit cyber.gov.au and take the steps to protect themselves, their businesses, their families, and Australia’s digital sovereignty.

According to survey data compiled by cybersecurity company NortonLifeLock, some 7½ million Australians over the past 12 months have experienced cybercrime and more than 1.4 million Australians were victims of identity theft. Every eight minutes, a case of cybercrime is reported to the Australian Signals Directorate or the Australian Cyber Security Centre. The impact of these incidents on individuals can be catastrophic and life-changing. Almost overnight, a person’s life savings can be taken from them, with no chance of recovering those funds. Businesses face extortion or being locked out of their intellectual property and their bank accounts. Individuals’ digital identities can be stolen and used to apply for bank loans, false identity documents and more. In the past year, according to NortonLifeLock, over $3 billion was lost by Australians as a result of cybercrime. Even the ACCC’s more conservative methodology suggests the figure is as much as $1 billion. Each individual had to spend an average of 8.2 hours trying to resolve the issues caused by cybercrime, costing our economy billions more in lost opportunities. The average amount taken from an Australian business impacted by cybercrime is more than $33,000, while the average cost of recovering from the incident runs at more than $10,000. Often it is far more. It is no wonder that 70 per cent of Australians now see the protection of their personal information online as a major concern in their life.

The Morrison government is very alive to these concerns and is taking unprecedented action to protect Australians. We have a great example of that work in my own electorate of Fisher, where the government supports an organisation called IDCARE, which is led by cybersecurity expert David Lacey. I’m grateful to the Minister for Home Affairs for recently joining me in visiting IDCARE to hear directly from David about the impacts this scourge is having on our community. David informed the minister that demand for IDCARE’s services, helping people to mitigate the impact of cybercrime on their life, has increased fourfold since 2015. IDCARE has now supported more than 200,000 Australians since its establishment in 2014.

The Morrison government recognises the growing importance of IDCARE’s vital and market-leading work, which is why we recently announced $6.1 million in funding to continue providing their services to another 54,000 Australians. In total, the government is investing $15 billion in cybersecurity and defence capabilities. This includes $1.67 billion to keep ordinary Australians safe online through our Cyber Security Strategy 2020. We’re developing a national plan to combat cybercrime, which will bring together the powers and capabilities of all our law enforcement, intelligence and security agencies to tackle this challenge. We’re already deploying the Australian Signals Directorate’s world-leading offensive capabilities to disrupt cybercriminals overseas and conducting sophisticated operations like Project Ironside to catch them in the act. The government has also introduced legislation to strengthen the powers available to the AFP and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and to increase the resilience of our critical infrastructure.

However, we all need to do our bit to fight cybercrime. As I’ve heard directly from David Lacey at IDCARE, there are a few straightforward steps that we can all take to be safer online. Make sure you’re updating your apps and operating systems regularly with the latest security patches. Watch out for links sent to you by messaging services and by email. Use multifactor authentication and pass-phrases where available, and make sure your passwords are complex and hard to guess—no more ‘Password’ passwords. Finally, always make sure you keep a backup of your data offline, and if anyone phones you asking for any personal details, make certain they are who they say they are. If you are in any doubt, do not give out critical information. Please visit cyber.gov.au; the website of the eSafety Commissioner; idcare.org; or call 1300CYBER1 to find out more and protect yourself. (Time expired)

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