The Australian Department of Defence has stated in their latest press release the Government’s commitment to protecting Australians online and stopping cyber criminals – the Government has directed the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) to use its offensive cyber capabilities to disrupt, degrade, deny and deter organised offshore cyber criminals.
This follows the Government’s public acknowledgement of ASD’s offensive cyber capability when they launched Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy in April 2016.
Since its inception at the end of 2014, there have been over 114,000 reports of cybercrime registered with the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN).
Notably 23,700 of these have been reported over the last 6 months, highlighting a growing occurrence of cyber criminal activity. The recent WannaCry and Petya ransomware attacks have affected governments, businesses and individuals around the world.
The use of this capability, which is currently used to help target, disrupt and defeat terrorist organisations such as Daesh, is subject to stringent legal oversight and consistent with Australia’s obligations under international law.
The use of offensive cyber capabilities will add to the Government’s crime-fighting arsenal and form part of Australia’s broader strategy to prevent and shut-down safe-havens for offshore cyber criminals.
According to ABC news, about 100 personnel will be tasked to the new cyber warfare unit, which may grow to 900 within a decade.