Australia has joined the other Five Eyes nations in calling out ransomware as a major security threat, specifically decrying attacks on hospitals during a global pandemic.
As part of the meeting, the ministers — including Australia’s new minister for home affairs Karen Andrews — put out out a specific statement about the threat of ransomware, and what the countries could to stop hackers from holding individuals, businesses and organisations hostage.
“Our discussion identified a number of shared policy challenges, which is a first step towards using our partnerships to counter this malicious cyber activity that impacts our society and national security every day,” it said.
The ministers specifically noted and condemned attacks on hospitals, which has become an increasingly big problem.
“With an increase in the prevalence of cyber incidents, including targeted ransomware attacks on hospitals across the globe, we the Five Countries condemn cyber threat actors targeting the public health response. Such activity can risk lives and jeopardises confidence in healthcare systems,” they said.
Interestingly, the group took a firm stance on refusing to pay ransoms to get the data back. Paying hackers, they said, “rewards” them for their actions and encourages more ransomware attacks in the future.
“Payment incentivises further ransomware attacks and offers no guarantee of a successful outcome. Affected systems may not be restored, data may be released or sold, and victims can be targeted again.
Normally, Five Eyes meetings are about how these countries can work together to battle high-level, thorny issues like COVID-19 and child sexual exploitation. That ransomware is considered a big enough issue to be discussed by Australia and other countries is an indication of just how much of a problem it’s become.