Offensive Cyber Capability To Fight Cyber Criminals

Media release
30 Jun 2017
Prime Minister, Minister for Defence, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security
Defence and National Security

The Turnbull Government is committed to protecting Australians online and stopping cyber criminals.

Cybercrime is conservatively estimated to cost the Australian economy $1 billion a year.

Since its inception at the end of 2014, there have been over 114,000 reports of cybercrime registered with the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN).

Notably 23,700 of these have been reported over the last 6 months, highlighting a growing occurrence of cyber criminal activity.

Given the growing cost of cybercrime to the Australian economy, the Government has directed the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) to use its offensive cyber capabilities to disrupt, degrade, deny and deter organised offshore cyber criminals. This follows the Government’s public acknowledgement of ASD’s offensive cyber capability when we launched Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy in April 2016.

The use of this capability, which is currently used to help target, disrupt and defeat terrorist organisations such as Daesh, is subject to stringent legal oversight and consistent with our obligations under international law.

The use of offensive cyber capabilities will add to the Government’s crime-fighting arsenal and form part of our broader strategy to prevent and shut-down safe-havens for offshore cyber criminals.

Cyber security and law enforcement measures will naturally continue to sit at the forefront of our response to cybercrime threats.

The recent WannaCry and Petya ransomware attacks have affected governments, businesses and individuals around the world.

Cyber criminals continue to adapt and evolve their methods and tactics, increasingly employing new methods to gain access to a victim and extort funds. As their level of sophistication has improved, cyber criminals are increasingly targeting businesses directly.

Our response to criminal cyber threats should not just be defensive. We must take the fight to the criminals.

The Turnbull Government has been a leader when it comes to ensuring the cyber security of Australian citizens.

We were the first Government to put real money —$230 million —behind a National Cyber Security Strategy when it launched last year, and the Defence White Paper contains up to $400 million to enhance the cyber capabilities of our defence forces.

The Government will target criminals wherever they seek to hurt Australian citizens but every Australian has a role to play in ensuring our cyber security.

Governments, business and individuals must be proactive about protecting themselves online by following best practice when it comes to cyber security.

We must work together to share threat information and learn from each other about the online threats that seek to do us harm.