Australia unveils joint cyber police to ‘hunt down’ hackers

Australia on Saturday formalized a new cyber policing model in a stepped-up effort to “hunt down” cyber crime syndicates, following recent hacks that have affected millions of Australians.

Australia’s largest health insurer, Medibank Private Ltd, suffered a massive cyber attack last month as Australia grapples with an increase in malicious hacks.

At least eight companies, including Singaporean telco Optus, Australia’s second-largest telco, have reported breaches since September.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said on Saturday the government was formalizing a permanent partnership between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Signals Agency – which intercepts electronic communications from overseas – to carry out “tough new policing” against cybercrime. .

O’Neil said about 100 officers would be part of the new partnership between the two federal agencies, which would operate as a “joint continuous operation against cybercriminal organizations.”

The task force would “day in, day out, go after the crooks responsible for these heinous crimes,” she said.

The announcement comes after AFP on Friday said Russian hackers were behind the attack on Medibank, which compromised data from around 10 million current and former customers.

Attorney General Mark Dreyfus, speaking alongside O’Neil in Melbourne, declined to say whether the ransomware group REvil was responsible for the recent cyber attacks on Australians.

“I’m not going to comment on that kind of operational issue, but what we do know… is that this is a very organized criminal gang and that it’s located in Russia,” Dreyfus said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has previously said that the government has done everything in its power to limit the impact of the Medibank hack and has set up a hotline for affected customers to seek help from both the government and Medibank.

© (Thomson Reuters 2022.

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