Australian Signals Directorate targets offshore COVID cybercrime

Defence minister Linda Reynolds. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Defence minister Linda Reynolds. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The Australian Signals Directorate has smashed international cybercrime rings targeting Australians with COVID-19-themed SMS phishing campaigns.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds will unveil a new national cyber security campaign today.

She said an Australian Signals Directorate operation to identify and reject illegitimate phishing text messages impersonating myGov and Centrelink had protected hundreds of Australians so far.

The offensive was sparked by intelligence reporting from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

The Australian Federal Police have also worked with international counterparts as part of the operation.

"These cyber criminals have been targeting Australians through COVID-19-themed SMS phishing campaigns that are designed to trick Australians into downloading advanced criminal malware onto their mobile phones," Senator Reynolds said.

"ASD is using its offensive cyber capabilities to attack the cyber criminals' tools - disrupting their operations and interrupting their ability to exploit Australians.

"In doing so, ASD has successfully disrupted the business model of key foreign cybercrime syndicates targeting Australians and exposing potential victims to significant financial losses."

Countries around the world have recorded an increase in cybercrime during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the threat of cybe rcriminals had been "amplified through malware developers selling or renting out their products through the dark web, making high-end hacking tools more accessible to criminals lacking in technical sophistication".

"We can't sit by while a marketplace exists for sophisticated cybercrime tools to be used against Australians," he said.

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This story Australians targeted in offshore COVID cybercrime first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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