Tue, 05 Dec 2023

CANBERRA, Australia: An Australian government report stated that state-sponsored cyber groups and hackers have increased attacks on Australia's critical infrastructure, businesses, and homes.

Canberra's new defense agreement with the UK and the U.S. had likely made Australia more of a target, it added.

In its annual threat report released this week, the Australian Cyber Security Centre said that reports of cybercrime rose 23 percent to more than 94,000 in the financial year to June.

In an interview with ABC Radio, Defense Minister Richard Marles said, "It estimated there was a hack on Australian assets every six minutes. The cyber threat continues to grow. We are also seeing a greater interest from state actors in Australia's critical infrastructure."

According to the report, this was partly due to the new AUKUS defense partnership "with its focus on nuclear submarines and other advanced military capabilities."

Australia's relationship with China, its largest trading partner, was "complex" and the government had never pretended the relationship would be easy, Marles said.

Diplomatic and trade ties between the two countries have stabilized recently after several disputes since 2020.

"We value, clearly, a productive relationship with China, but China has been a source of security anxiety for our country, and we prepare for that as well," Marles added.

The spike in cyber-attacks caused Canberra to establish an agency to help coordinate responses to hacks in February. It is also overhauling federal cyber laws, stating it will make it compulsory for companies to report ransomware incidents.

Changes to Australia's cyber security rules were triggered by the 2022 data theft at telecoms provider Optus, which exposed the personal information of some 10 million Australians.

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