26 September 2023

Cyber police warn on COVID criminals

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The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has warned that cyber-criminals are targeting people through a range of COVID-19-themed scams, fraud attempts and deceptive email schemes.

Head of the ACSC, Abigail Bradshaw said that since 10 March the Centre had received more than 95 cyber-crime reports about Australians losing money or personal information to the scams and online frauds.

“We have also responded to 20 cyber security incidents affecting COVID-19 response services and/or major national suppliers in the current climate, and disrupted over 150 malicious COVID-19 themed websites,” Ms Bradshaw said.

“The ACSC had observed malicious foreign cyber actors adapting their techniques and aligning their malicious activities within days — sometimes even hours — of Government announcements such as relief payments or public health guidance.”

She said the Australian Signals Directorate had also used its offensive cyber capabilities to disrupt foreign cyber-criminals responsible for malicious cyber activities exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have stopped them from accessing their own systems and prevented them from accessing information they stole,” Ms Bradshaw said.

“Our latest threat update includes eight case studies of cyber scams, online frauds and phishing campaigns and outlines mitigation strategies to combat them.”

She encouraged everyone to remain vigilant against the threat of cyber-crime, and check the ACSC’s advisories at cyber.gov.au to know what to look for and what to do.

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