SYDNEY — After a spate of ransomware attacks, Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews is considering a Labor proposal to make businesses report to a government agency before paying up.

“I’m open to exploring this, I am already exploring this,” Andrews told a business forum in Canberra on June 24.

She plans to have more discussions in the coming weeks.

Andrews tweeted “Almost every serious crime and national security threat have an online element. New legislation passed today will revolutionize the way our agencies investigate and prosecute serious crime, terrorism, child sexual exploitation and cybercrime.”

Andrews also recently launched a 10 part podcast series ‘Closing The Net’ that looks into the world of online sexual exploitation to raise awareness about the issue and help the little ones.

Labor’s Tim Watts introduced a private member’s bill to parliament on Monday following a spate of ransomware attacks. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image)

Labor’s Tim Watts introduced a private member’s bill to parliament on June 21 following a spate of ransomware attacks.

Under his proposed laws, businesses and government agencies would need to notify the federal Australian Cyber Security Centre before paying any ransomware demands.

Watts pointed to recent attacks on JBS Foods, Nine Entertainment and UnitingCare Queensland.

Last year, a ransomware attack halted the delivery of milk for dairy processor Lion Dairy and Drinks.

Andrews said she wanted businesses to contact the Australian Cyber Security Centre if they had a ransomware attack or other threats.

The center, as part of the Australian Signals Directorate, was well placed to support firms but relied on businesses sharing information.

“I certainly want the Australian Cyber Security Centre to be in a position to support businesses who have been subject to a ransomware attack,” Tim Watts said.

Watts tweeted “The time to act on ransomware is now. Mandatory notification has been recommended by a wide range of international authorities on this issue. The Morrison Government can’t keep kicking this can down the road.”

Karen Andrews said she wanted businesses to contact the ACSC if they had a ransomware attack or other threats. (Lukas Coch/AAP Image)

Cyber Executive Christina Ayiotis tweeted “Australian lawmakers .. filed on Monday a new bill that would mandate that local companies inform the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) of their intention to pay a Ransomeware gang.”

“Criminal groups digitally extorting Australian businesses and agencies could face the prospect of prosecution and efforts to claw back funds, thanks to a new law enforcement operation aimed at ransomware operators,” Ayiotis said.

Global meat processing company JBS Foods paid more than AU$14 million ($10.6 million) in bitcoin this month to end a five-day cyberattack that halted operations, including in Australia.

The official line from the federal agency is that paying up encourages cybercriminals.

(Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Praveen Pramod Tewari)



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