Cyber attacks on Australian business more targeted and coordinated

New national survey results from more than 250 major businesses shows cyber attacks are becoming increasingly targeted and coordinated, with one in five experiencing an electronic attack in the last year.

New national survey results from more than 250 major businesses shows cyber attacks are becoming increasingly targeted and coordinated, with one in five experiencing an electronic attack in the last year.

The survey also shows businesses and industries that provide essential services such as energy, defence, communications, banking and finance, and water, are now investing more heavily in tighter security.

The 2012 Cyber Crime and Security Survey Report, which will establish baseline information on cyber attacks, was launched today by Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC at Telstra's Global Operations Centre in Melbourne.

"The digital economy has opened up myriad opportunities for Australian businesses to deliver goods, provide services and communicate with people more effectively. But with every online opportunity comes the risk of criminal exploitation," said Mr Dreyfus.

"Cyber attacks have shifted from being indiscriminate and random to being more coordinated and targeted for financial gain. Most attacks occur from outside the business, although it appears internal risks are also significant."

The most serious attacks involved the use of malicious software including "ransomware" and "scareware", trojan or rootkit malware, theft or breach of confidential information and denial-of-service attacks. In one case, an organisation reported the theft of 15 years' worth of critical business data.

A third of attacks involved the theft of notebooks, tablets or mobile devices.

The survey, commissioned by Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) Australia and conducted by the Centre for Internet Safety at the University of Canberra, will be annual.

"CERT Australia, established by the Gillard Government, is working with closely with Australian businesses to create higher security standards, warning systems and a secure information sharing system to defend key organisations from cybercrime attacks," said Mr Dreyfus.

"I encourage business to proactively take advantage of CERT Australia's expertise – prevention is much better than cure."

In January, the Prime Minister announced that CERT Australia will soon be part of the new Australian Cyber Security Centre, which will develop a comprehensive understanding of the cyber threat to Australian Government networks and systems of national interest.