COVID cyber crimes hit 1,500 a month: ACSC

COVID cyber crimes hit 1,500 a month: ACSC

Clocked in at over 18,000 reports for the financial year.

Credit: Engin Akyurt

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has recorded over 1,500 cyber crime reports per month in relation to the coronavirus pandemic over the last financial year, coming in at about four per day. 

In total, the ASCS received 18,000 such reports over the last 12 months to 30 June 2021, with more than 75 per cent of pandemic-linked cyber acts resulting in lost money or financial information.

According to the ACSC Annual Cyber Threat Report 2020-21, this is up considerably from the 2020 financial year, when the agency recorded more than 45 coronavirus-related reports.  

“The coronavirus pandemic exposed Australia to heightened cyber threats, with the health sector and key entities involved in the supply of the COVID-19 vaccine placed at particular risk," the report claimed.  

"Australian individuals and families received large volumes of malicious emails and text messages themed to the pandemic, while many organisations – including health services – suffered compromises at the hands of cyber criminals who sought to profit from the global crisis.  

"At the same time, state-sponsored actors sought access to sensitive information relating to the pandemic, including vaccine research, increasing the threat of cyber espionage to Australia.”  

It should be noted however that the 45 reports came from 10 to 26 March 2020, when the global pandemic was in its infancy. 

Overall, total reports increased by approximately 13 per cent during the 2021 financial year to over 67,500, resulting in self-reported financial losses totalling more than $33 billion. 

There was an also increase in reported losses of business email compromise (BEC) scams over the last financial year, with average losses increasing by roughly 54 per cent year-on-year to $50,673. 

Total losses from BEC scams rose by 15 per cent to roughly $81.5 million, despite total BEC reports decreasing slightly over the last 12 months to 30 June to more than 4,600 — nearly 7 per cent of all cyber crime reports during the period. 

Ransomware reports were also up by nearly 15 per cent to approximately 500, with the professional, scientific and technical services sector recording the most reports. Following this was health care and social assistance, manufacturing, education and training, and then state, territory and local government.   

On a state and territory basis, Queensland and Victoria recorded the highest proportion of cyber crime reports for FY 21, clocking in with approximately 30 per cent each of the total report pool.  

Meanwhile, Western Australia and South Australia, while accounting for a lower number of overall reports, were the states with the highest average self-reported financial losses. 

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Tags Australian Cyber Security CentreACSC

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