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The Cyber Threat Report 2022-23 records rise in cyber attacks

Cyber security threat. Young woman using computer and coding. Internet and network security

The Australian Cyber Security Centre, under the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), published the annual Cyber Threat Report 2022-23. The report highlights escalating cyber threats throughout various Australian industries as malicious actors demonstrated the intent and capability to compromise vital systems.

To summarise:

  • State actors, focusing on critical infrastructure, were specifically susceptible to data theft and disruption to business
    • Many governments and critical infrastructure networks became prime targets for state-sponsored cyber actors engaged in information-gathering campaigns or disruptive activities. Notably, the AUKUS partnership, with its emphasis on advanced military capabilities, became a potential hotspot for intellectual property theft
  • Australian critical infrastructure was targeted via increasingly interconnected systems
    • The ASD responded to 143 cyber incidents related to critical infrastructure
  • Cybercriminals adapted their tactics to maximise financial gains, particularly through ransomware
    • The ASD responded to 127 extortion-related incidents, involving ransomware and other restrictive measures. Business email compromise continued to be a prominent catalyst for cybercrime, and data breaches impacted millions of Australians, exposing their information on the dark web
  • Alarming trends included the exploitation of one in five critical vulnerabilities within 48 hours, despite available patching or mitigation advice
  • Cybersecurity challenges were further compounded by complex ICT supply chains and advancements in artificial intelligence

The ASD also collaborated with international partners to expose Russia’s Federal Security Service’s use of ‘Snake’ malware for cyber espionage. Attention was also drawn to the People’s Republic of China state-sponsored cyber actor utilising ‘living-off-the-land’ techniques to compromise critical infrastructure organisations. Additionally, the first year of the ASD’s initiative REDSPICE increased cyber threat intelligence sharing, fortifying critical infrastructure, and enhancing the national incident response capability.

For a full reading of the report, see here.

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