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Australia, UK, US release joint cyber security advisory

The nations have published a joint cyber security advisory, outlining recommendations to shore up cyber defences.

user iconReporter
Thu, 10 Feb 2022
Australia, UK, US release joint cyber security advisory
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In collaboration with counterparts in the United Kingdom and the United States, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has released an advisory, flagging risks associated with an increase in sophisticated, high impact ransomware attacks directed at organisations, including critical infrastructure.

The publication developed by ACSC, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Security Agency (NSA), and the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC-UK) outlines recommendations for bolstering cyber defences.

These include:

  • Keeping all operating systems and software up to date
  • Securing and monitoring RDP or other potentially risky services
  • Implementing a user training program and phishing exercises
  • Increasing the use of multifactor identification
  • Requiring all accounts with password logins (e.g. service account, admin accounts and domain admin accounts) to have strong, unique passwords.

“Australia is one of the most secure places to connect online, yet this advisory warns us that we cannot be complacent,” Assistant Minister for Defence Andrew Hastie said.

“We need to be vigilant in updating devices and securing our networks, our businesses and homes.

Assistant Minister Hastie added that the spike in malicious cyber activity has coincided with shift in the technological landscape off the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, with state-sponsored actors looking to exploit transitional vulnerabilities.

“We are seeing that playing out with authoritarian governments threatening conflict to achieve political aims – the rise of cyber crime and grey zone tactics like ransomware attacks are now a feature of our current security landscape,” he said.

According to the 2021 ACSC Annual Cyber Threat Report, ransomware remains the most serious cyber crime threat, given the financial burden such attacks impose.

Ransomware-related cyber crime reports to the ACSC surged 15 per cent in the 2020-21 financial year.

As such, the Commonwealth government is looking to leverage the technology sharing arrangement established under the AUKUS pact to shore-up cyber security.

“Together with our AUKUS partners, our respective cyber agencies are striking back at the cyber criminals who are seeking to employ ransomware and extort individuals, businesses and governments in our nations – this joint advisory highlights our mutual concern and commitment to tackle this scourge,” Assistant Minister Hastie said.

The release of the advisory comes just weeks after Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne and UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Elizabeth Truss signed a Cyber and Critical Technology Partnership, aimed at shaping a positive technology environment.

As part of the agreement, the nations have pledged to intensify cooperation and delivery of shared opportunities and challenges across the cyber and critical technology policy.

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