Crypto is at the forefront of a debate urging the Australian government to prohibit the use of digital assets as payment for cyber ransoms, following a mass data breach at a local business.
Latitude Financial, a consumer lender, recently confirmed a cyberattack on their systems on March 16. Despite receiving a ransom demand, they made the bold decision to not pay up, sparking a growing concern over the rise of these types of cyber threats.
According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), the government’s primary cybersecurity agency, paying ransomware demands should be avoided at all costs. The ACSC advises victims of such attacks against the payment of ransom, as there is no assurance that the compromised information will be recovered, rather than sold on the internet.
Latitude Financial Refuses To Pay Ransom, Sparks Debate
The cyber attack on Latitude Financial resulted in a massive data breach, with almost 8 million Australian and New Zealand driver’s license numbers, 6.1 million customer records, 53,000 passport numbers, and 100 customer financial statements being stolen.
Latitude Financial, however, has refused to pay the ransom, as advised by cybercrime experts, citing concerns that it may put their customers and the wider community at risk by encouraging further attacks.
Cryptocurrency has been a popular payment method for ransomware attacks, as it allows for anonymity and the transfer of funds across borders. The ACSC has highlighted that Australia’s high level of prosperity makes it an attractive target for cybercriminals.
Despite the ACSC’s warning, there is currently no law in place that prohibits companies from paying ransoms. The recent attack on Latitude Financial has prompted calls from the Australian tech industry for new regulations to be introduced to outlaw this practice.
Australia Considers Ban On Crypto Ransom Payments
The issue of whether ransom payments should be outlawed in Australia is currently under review by Cyber Security Minister Clare O’Neil. This follows a recommendation from a cybersecurity strategy review led by Andy Penn, former CEO of Telstra.
CyberRisk’s director, Wayne Tufek, suggests that a legal ban on ransom payments would discourage criminals from carrying out attacks, as they would not expect to receive large sums of money. Similarly, Andrew Truswell, director of technology law firm Biztech Lawyers, also advocates for the consideration of legislation limiting ransom payments.
Crypto total market cap currently a little over $1 billion on the daily chart at TradingView.com
Australia’s review of its cybersecurity strategy and potential outlawing of ransom payments is just one example of the ongoing efforts to find effective solutions.
With the stakes so high and cybercriminals becoming ever more sophisticated, it’s clear that cybersecurity will continue to be a pressing concern for governments, crypto companies, and individuals alike.
-Featured image from CSO Online