According to Australia, Best Defense is Attack: “Hack the Hackers”
Dec 9, 2022
After the hack incidents of two giant Australian companies, the government has decided to fight against hackers.
Australia Tries to Hack The Hackers
Two recent cyberattacks in Australia led the Australian government to decide on fighting back against attacks with their own task force of hackers. ‘’This is Australia standing up and punching back.’’ Clare O’Neil who is the Cyber Security Minister of Australia said.
Medibank is the largest insurance company in Australia and with the recent cyber-attack, thousands of their customer data have been stolen. Before Medibank, Optus which is a telecommunication giant in Australia had a similar cyberattack. On 12 November, O’Neil announced a task force to hack the hackers in order to protect the data of its citizens. ‘’We are not going to sit back while our citizens are treated this way and allow there to be no consequences for that.” were her words and this is how any government should react when it comes to stolen data.
These offensive cyber strategies have been used by Australia in the past too. Australian government confirmed in 2016 that they were making offensive cyber-attacks offshore under the Australian Signals Directorate which is the national cyber spy agency. Now the government is trying to make it illegal to pay ransom to hackers for these types of cyberattacks with stolen data. As Clare O’Neil says, hackers cannot be trusted in terms of deleting the data they stole and can release data after getting the ransom too. Australian Government now advises companies to trust the new task force to track down hackers and skip to pay a ransom as Medibank did. Medibank was asked to pay 15 million dollar ransom to prevent the release of customer data.
This new task force of Australia will combine the experience of the Australian Signals Directorate and the Australian Federal Police (AFP). The task force will be built with the 100 most talented cyber experts in the country. Their aim is to ‘’scour the world, hunt down the criminal syndicates and gangs’’ in Clare O’Neil’s words.
Fighting Against Hackers
With this action taken by the Australian Government people got into thinking if it’s a good idea or not. Some people think that hunting down hackers all around the world can make Australia a target for such attacks as hackers don’t like to be threatened. Moreover, this may harm relations with the countries where the hackers are from. The Medibank data breach has been attributed to hackers based in Russia, likely to be with REvil cyber-gang. Even this attribution can lead to cyber-wars in the worst-case scenario. On the other hand, this can encourage other countries to fight cyberattacks in a similar way till illegal cyber activities all around the world are restricted or decreased.
Many other countries have thought about this approach before, but it wasn’t implemented as most companies would rather pay the ransom to save their brand name not caring about breaking the law. However, if Australia can find a law to completely restrict companies to pay a ransom and the task force is successful in their cyberattacks, other countries can start using this approach too.
Hopefully, this task force becomes successful without leading to cyber-wars within countries and finds better ways to prevent data breaches.