Interview with Matt Shirvington, Sunrise

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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4 November 2022

MATT SHIRVINGTON, HOST: Well, new figures out this morning show Australia's cyberspace is coming under increasing attack. The latest Cyber Threat Report shows 76,000 cybercrimes were logged last financial year, an increase of nearly 13 per cent from the year before. That's equivalent to one cybercrime every seven minutes. The average cost per crime was around $40,000 for small businesses, $80,000 for medium and $62,000 for large organisations.

Joining me now is Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, good morning to you. This goes back to the last financial year, but why are we seeing Optus, Medibank in recent weeks, these attacks increasing?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER RICHARD MARLES: Well, I think, as you said in the introduction, what we've seen is an increase in cyber incidents - cybercrime - even before the well publicised events with both Optus and Medibank. And there's a few reasons for this; we're living more of our lives online, I think that's been accelerated through the pandemic in the figures that you just quoted. What's really clear is that cybercrime is now big business. There's a lot of pickpockets out there in cyberspace and sometimes this is happening on a grand scale. But we're also seeing more state actors engaged. That's happening very much in the open in the war in Ukraine, between Russia and Ukraine, where Russia is having malware attacks against Ukraine. But they're not the only ones. And in the murky grey world that the cyberspace is, a lot of this is interacting with each other, but the common denominator is we've got to be doing a lot more to protect ourselves. That's at the level of government, it's the level of big business, it's at the level of individuals.

SHIRVINGTON: Is it time to give customers more control back over their own data? You've introduced a Bill to increase penalties for companies caught up in the data breaches. But what about changing other laws, like the requirement for organisations to hold on to customer data for several years?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, I think we need to be looking at our regulatory environment and, as you said, we increased the penalties in this space, which will make a difference. I think we've just got to be hardening our defences here. The Australian Signals Directorate, which is the main government agency, is actually an agency in defence. That's how we see this. And we're spending a lot more on ASD, but we're working more with large businesses. But for individuals as well, for people at home, people have to be vigilant. It's not a matter of panicking here, but it is a matter of being really vigilant, making sure that you're updated with your software, making sure that you have two factor authentication on your apps, on the data that you keep, making sure you're not clicking on links where you don't know where they're from. All of these are really simple measures that people can take and make a huge difference. And I think people have got to understand that with this increase in cybercrime and cyber threat, it's really important that people are vigilant.

SHIRVINGTON: Yeah, understand that trying to control it at the source is difficult. But the anxiety for people - new emails, text messages coming in on a daily basis, it's so hard to filter through and to figure out what is legit and what isn't. Deputy Prime Minister, thanks for your time this morning.



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