In the case of ransomware or other cyber attacks on key infrastructure, Australia’s top cyber spies will be given more authority.
Under new legislation tabled in Parliament, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), a government agency in charge of cyber warfare and information security, will be empowered to seize control of key infrastructures like electricity, communications, and financial networks.
The Act even considers healthcare and grocery enterprises to be essential infrastructure, with new positive security requirements.
Operators from the affected infrastructure must report a significant cyber incident for ASD operatives to assist.
The Critical Infrastructure Bill, according to The Australian newspaper, will be submitted to parliament on October 20 with bipartisan backing from the committee that investigated it.
Karen Andrews, Minister for Home Affairs, indicated that the proposed restrictions will protect the safety of key services on which Australians rely.
However, the new restrictions are opposed by a coalition of Australian and international technology sector organisations. In a united letter, they stated, “Without major change, the measure will create an impossible set of duties and set a disturbing worldwide precedent.”
This year has seen a slew of high-profile ransomware assaults, including the Colonial Pipeline cyber attack in the United States in May, which caused governments around the world to reconsider their vulnerabilities and emphasised the importance of crypto in the attacks.
Another ransomware attack on Australian meat processor JBS in May prompted politicians in Australia to adopt a harder stance. A new Ransomware Action Plan, published last week, will allow Australian authorities to seize or block financial transactions in cryptocurrencies involved with cybercrime, regardless of the nation of origin.
According to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, the “threat of cyber security vulnerability and malicious cyber activity has become increasingly evident in recent years,” with approximately one-quarter of reported cyber security incidents affecting critical infrastructure organisations.
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