Labor calls for an Australian ransomware strategy

Two Labor shadow ministry members have called for a national ransomware strategy, one they say is aimed at reducing the number of such attacks on Australian targets.

In a report [PDF] prepared by Shadow Minister for Home Affairs Kristina Keneally and Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications Tim Watts, Labor declared that due to ransomware being the biggest threat facing Australia, it’s time for a strategy to thwart it.

“Australia needs a comprehensive National Ransomware Strategy designed to reduce the attractiveness of Australian targets in the eyes of cyber criminals,” the report said. 

“None of these interventions are silver bullets. But the threat of ransomware isn’t going anywhere soon, and the government cannot leave it to Australian organisations to confront this challenge alone.”

The report pointed to the Australian government’s underwhelming cybersecurity strategy that was published in August.

“[It] rightly identifies that individual organisations have the primary responsibility for securing their own networks against any cyber threat, including ransomware. However, this is far from the end of the story,” the report said.

It also said the government has a range of policy tools that only it can deploy in an effort to reduce the overall volume of ransomware attacks, such as regulation making, law enforcement, diplomacy, international agreement making, offensive cyber operations, as well as the imposition of sanctions.

“While individual organisations will always be primarily responsible for securing their own networks, governments can intervene strategically to shape the overall threat environment in ways that make Australian targets less attractive,” it continued.

One suggestion the report has made is for the Australian government to pursue an approach that seeks to alter the return on investment of ransomware groups that target Australian organisations.

“To do this, it should pursue a range of initiatives designed to increase the costs of mounting campaigns against Australian organisations and to reduce the returns that are realised from such campaigns,” it said.

“The Australian government has tools that it can…