Australia’s health system under attack by Cyber attackers amid COVID-19

In the last financial year, COVID-19 pandemic has driven Australians to depend on internet considerably – whether to work remotely, to communicate or to access any online services. This high-level dependence has presented hackers with opportunities to exploit the vulnerable targets in Australia.

On 15 September 2021, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) published its annual cyber threat report for the last financial year from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021. The ACSC report underlines the key cyber threats affecting Australian systems and networks.

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Australia noticed ~13% jump in cybercrime reports

According to ACSC report, in the last one year, more than 67,500 cybercrime incidents affected vital infrastructure organisations of Australia including essential services like education, health system, electricity, communications, water as well as transport.

Image Description: Australia’s government sector saw highest number of security incidents

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The government sector of Australia witnessed highest number of security incidents followed by the professional, scientific and technical sector, the health care and social assistance sector. According to the report, no sector of the Australian economy was immune from the impacts of cybercrime.  

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Healthcare sector hit by ransomware incidents

Targeting the health sector was one of the most significant cyberattacks Australia witnessed so far during the COVID-19 pandemic. The sector reported second highest number of  ransomware incidents after professional, scientific and technical services sector.

Image description: Australian healthcare sector witnessed Ransomware attacks

Source: © Tanpanamanoob |

These attacks have significantly affected the daily operations with medical staff locked out of patient records, delayed surgeries, along with patients seeking emergency care, being diverted to other facilities.

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How ACSC helped government and other industry sectors?

To combat cyber threat and attacks, the ACSC has supported the government and major industry organisations, including the healthcare sector, to decrease the risk of nasty cyber-attacks against the COVID-19 vaccine launch. The ACSC provided threat intelligence sharing, technical advice and assistance, earlier cooperation with vaccine supply chain entities, and vulnerability scanning of research, biotechnology, health, logistics and transportation industry.

Bottom Line

COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the ways in which malicious cyber actors can take advantage of the crisis period by conducting phishing and cyber attacks against vulnerable entities. However, with the support of ACSC, the country is on its way to strengthen its cyber resilience.

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