Cybersecurity Breaches in Australia in 2021

by - 14 September 2021
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Cybersecurity is becoming more of a security concern all around the world. Unfortunately, Australia is dealing with one of the bigger increases in cybercrime, and businesses in Australia are increasingly likely to be the target of cyber-attacks.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has identified 2020 as a turning point in cybersecurity concerns in Australia.

Cybercrime Every 10 Minutes

Currently, in Australia, there is an average of at least one cybercrime committed every 10 minutes, and more than 100 committed every day. We’re also seeing a rise in cybercrime in 2021 over Q4 2020, which indicates that the trend of increasing cybercrime isn’t slowing down.

Critical Cybersecurity Breaches in 2021

The truth is that not all cybersecurity breaches get much attention. Many are handled privately and without too much fuss in the public. But the most serious cybersecurity breaches cause harm to the company or general public significant enough to get media attention.

Here are some of the more serious cybersecurity breaches that have already happened in 2021.

Tasmanian Ambulance Data Breach – January 2021

This serious breach involved the personal and medical data of anyone who requested a Tasmanian Ambulance from November 2020 till the vulnerability was detected and resolved in January 2021. Radio information was intercepted and transcribed, allowing the cyber attackers to collect and publish personal patient data.

Thankfully, the website publishing that patient data has since been taken down, but that doesn’t mean that the data wasn’t collected and used elsewhere before the site was removed.

Northern Territory Government Data Breach – February 2021

This breach involved thousands of emails being published online after an unintentional error regarding the information in Northern Territory’s COVID-19 check-in app. While this breach was not the result of a hacking attempt, it proves how important data protection is, and how easily data protection measures can fail.

Western Australian Parliament Data Breach – March 2021

The Western Australian Parliament had a data breach in one of the parliament’s mail servers. The extent of the breach is largely unclear thanks to limited transparency after the incident. Publicly it’s reported that the mail server was quickly isolated after malicious activity was detected, but it’s unclear to what extent that is true. It’s also unknown how much data might have been found on the original mail server.

This cyberattack utilised a known vulnerability, the Microsoft Exchange Server Vulnerability, which was addressed in a patch released by Microsoft the day after the attack.

While it’s possible that this attack was isolated and dealt with quickly, many other Australian institutions and companies were vulnerable until their systems were fully updated.

Eastern Health Data Breach – March 2021

One of the most serious cybersecurity breaches in Australia so far in 2021, the Eastern Health Data Breach involved 4 hospitals that were likely targeted by a ransomware attack. Ransomware is one of the more dangerous kinds of cybersecurity breach since they can be hard to resolve, expensive, and there is no guarantee that data is safe during the attack, or that data access will be restored when the ransom is paid.

In this case, it’s not entirely clear whether ransomware is to blame since the nature of the targets means much of the information about the case is kept private. However, one assurance we do have is that patient information does not seem to have been compromised in this case.

Unfortunately, during the attack, some patients’ elective surgeries needed to be rescheduled or delayed. At the same time, there seems to be a rise in cybersecurity attacks targeting Australia’s health sector, which means that it’s possible for other hospitals and health systems to duffer a similar attack in the future.

Protect Your Business

We are happy to offer business cyber security support, as well as business IT support right here in Australia. If you’re concerned about protecting your business from the increasing rates of cybersecurity, we can help. As a Managed Service Provider in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, we can help a wide range of clients with your cybersecurity needs.