Australia hit by cyberattack, bank records wipe

Written by CNN Staff Kian Reimer, CNN Cyberattacks across the world are accelerating and Canada will have to set up national standards to protect the country’s cyber-security if it wants to avoid being a…

Australia hit by cyberattack, bank records wipe

Written by CNN Staff

Kian Reimer, CNN

Cyberattacks across the world are accelerating and Canada will have to set up national standards to protect the country’s cyber-security if it wants to avoid being a cyber target, experts say.

Australia was earlier this week taken by surprise when it revealed that a crippling cyberattack launched earlier this year had erased all records of 250,000 customers.

“Cyberattacks have become a major threat, especially in the digital economy,” Canadian cybersecurity firm Affectiva CEO Doug Taylor said in a statement. “The Canada government is waking up to the threat the federal government faces from cyberattacks that can have devastating economic and social consequences.”

The victims were the largest such attack in Australian history, authorities said.

The cyberattack began when fraudsters targeted e-commerce websites with malware and allegedly launched a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on bank websites in August, knocking them offline.

Kian Reimer, CNN

Officials say they are only now beginning to understand the full impact of the attack, which is believed to have cost the Australian banking sector at least $153 million, or 84,000 bitcoins — now valued at around $224 million USD.

But it may have already been a costly mistake. The attackers gained the ability to decrypt many Australians’ accounts.

“The attack changed all Australian banking at least for a while,” said Matt Eastwood, from data breach forensic firm K2 Security. “There is a chance some of this could go back to bank files.”

‘Top priority’

In Canada, Taylor warned that “government and businesses are failing to adequately protect Canadians’ private information.”

“The Canadian government needs to take cybersecurity into its own hands and establish a national framework for cybersecurity that protects data and that meets international standards,” he said.

This will only become an issue if Canada fails to take action, he added.

“We are not immune to the sophisticated cyberattacks directed against major states and private organizations.”

In a report issued Wednesday, top Canadian cyber experts noted the problems of cyber-security in Canada.

“Cyber-attacks continue to be a top priority, with multiple attacks impacting key private and public sector institutions and capabilities,” the report said.

“The legislative framework around cyber-attacks across government does not yet exist and instead includes a voluntary standard set by the government’s cyber security committee.”

The Canadian cyber experts noted that the “cybersecurity architecture in Canada continues to be undermined by insufficient efforts to collaborate, or because of poor communication across the government.”

Recently, banking website E-Trade was breached, putting customer account information and passwords at risk.

US to toughen cyberattack response

The US is also drawing up plans to toughen its cyberattack response, the Washington Post reports.

It’s not the first time this year that hackers have affected a major global company. In August, it was revealed that Anthem Inc. had been hit by a sophisticated cyberattack that put the personal information of 78 million people — including 17 million people who are 60 years old or older — at risk.

Threat intelligence firm Flashpoint, which was awarded the security breach award for Anthem, said that threats in the country are coming from hackers looking to infiltrate critical infrastructure and governments.

“We will see more evidence of these alliances of interest and capabilities,” said Flashpoint CEO Stewart Baker.

He added that the attackers may still keep their activities behind closed doors to escape detection.

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