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Australia leading global fight against ransomware

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The Australian Government says it will convene and host a virtual international counter ransomware task force as part of the International Counter-Ransomware Initiative, uniting key international stakeholders across government to develop innovative solutions to counter the ransomware threat.

The food and beverage manufacturing sector, being a core component of Australia’s critical infrastructure, means a cyberattack on an organization in this industry could compromise food supply and safety, as discussed by Fortinet’s Michael Murphy in the September edition of Food & Drink Business.

Consequently, the food and beverage manufacturing sector was included in the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure Protection) Act 2022 (SLACIP Act), which came into effect on 2 April 2022 and has led to significant changes relating to cyber resilience requirements for CI operators.

The SLACIP Act amends various infrastructure asset definitions and calls for CI operators to adopt, maintain, update, and comply with a critical infrastructure risk management program.

Minister O’Neil said she expects the task force to be convened early next year and acknowledged recent cyber incidents served as blunt reminders.

“The cyber incident involving Medibank Private is a blunt reminder that we need a globally focused capability to combat cyber threats, including ransomware.

“I want Australia to be a global leader in cyber security, and the Australian Government will continue to join with international partners, industry and the community to develop effective responses to the complex issue of cybercrime.

“The ransomware threat extends across international borders, and I call on other nations to be part of this global initiative to support effective detection, disruption and prosecution of malicious cyber actors who use ransomware for financial and other gain,” O’Neil said.

The taskforce will drive international cooperation and joint efforts to tackle ransomware including through information and intelligence exchanges, sharing best practice policy and legal authority frameworks and collaboration between law enforcement and cyber authorities to conduct counter ransomware activities.

Countering Ransomware Initiative members agreed to the establishment of the task force at the second Counter Ransomware Initiative summit in Washington.

“The summit was an opportunity for like-minded governments to build effective networks to counter the scurge of ransomware, toughen cyber resilience within the community and bring ransomware criminals to justice.

“Our new Cyber ​​Security Strategy will be looking at further ways to harden our nation so Australia becomes an unwelcome operating environment for cyber criminals,” O’Neil said.

The members of the Counter Ransomware Initiative are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico , the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, and Ukraine, and the EU.