Australia to lead global task force to fight ransomware

Minister for Home Affairs and for Cyber Security, Clare O’Neil, has announced that Australia has commenced operations under the International Counter Ransomware Task Force to combat ransomware.

The Task Force, which sits under the US-led Counter Ransomware Initiative and comprises 37 like-minded governments, will aim to enable “sustained and impactful international collaboration, designed to disrupt, combat and defend against the increasing ransomware threat”.

It has also called on other countries “to join the collective effort”.

The International Counter Ransomware Task Force was created by members of the Counter Ransomware Initiative at a meeting in Washington last November. It is currently chaired by Australia.

The new body will drive international cooperation to tackle ransomware, including through information and intelligence exchanges, sharing best practice policy and legal authority frameworks, and collaboration between law enforcement and cyber authorities.

The Minister stressed that recent cyber incidents in Australia and around the globe were “a stark reminder of the insidious nature of ransomware” and the ability of cyber-criminals to cause widespread disruption and harm to broad sections of the community.

“Ransomware represents a significant global threat, and Australia will continue to play a leading role working with international partners, industry and the community to develop effective responses to combat cyber criminals and protect our people and institutions,” Minister O’Neil said.

“Australia calls on other nations to be part of this global initiative to support effective detection, disruption and prosecution of cyber-criminals who use ransomware for financial and other gain.”

O’Neil added that the Cyber Security Strategy will look for further ways “to harden our nation so Australia becomes an unwelcome operating environment for cyber-criminals”.

Members of the Counter Ransomware Initiative are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Ukraine and the EU.