Flashpoint report puts Aussie media industry under cybersecurity spotlight as 50 million Australian records lost to cybercriminals

Flashpoint, a globally trusted firm in risk intelligence, recently released a new report on the state of Australia’s cyber threat intelligence—a first-of-its-kind data-driven analysis of emerging security and intelligence trends impacting organisations across the public and private sectors.

What were the key highlights of the Flashpoint report?

Following international trends outlined in Flashpoint’s global State of Cyber Threat Intelligence Report, the report showed Australia’s Media and Telecommunications division was a victim of an enormous 72% of Australia’s 50 million stolen credentials – a 99% increase when compared to 2021, while the Public Sector accounted for nearly 20% of the country’s total data breaches.

The highlighted resiliency of threat actors, illicit communities and markets, which continue to re-emerge despite takedowns. Flashpoint’s intelligence collection observed 190 new significant illicit marketplaces emerged in 2022, with indications the trajectory will definitely continue.

2022 was a prolific year of cyberattacks in Australia, with a whooping record number of breaches reported when compared to all the previous years. Flashpoint’s research identified a record 56 successful ransomware attacks alone aimed at many Australian organisations.

Fraud and phishing campaigns are one of the commonly used methods employed by threat-actors, however, ransomware attacks are increasingly used by advanced persistent threat (APT) groups such as those highlighted by the turning point attacks on Optus and Medibank.

Flashpoint tracked specific illicit market discussions that involved the trade, purchase, sale, or general procurement of exploit code, ranging in price from AUD $3,000 to more than AUD $15,000. Flashpoint’s research data has also indicated that threat actor focus is on obtaining email addresses and account credentials, however, all personally identifiable information (PII) is at risk of being exfiltrated for financial gain. This is the threat Australian sectors are facing.

Poor cybersecurity practices that have been exacerbated by the rapid shift to remote and hybrid work, in addition to the targeting of APT groups from China and Russia, is a key factor and variable in the drastic increase in exposed Australian records within the different sectors.

What are the government and executive report remarks?

All the cyber incidents in 2022 have spurred the recent announcement of the Australian government’s intention to appoint a new Coordinator for Cyber Security, and Australia is currently ranking first among peers around the world general for cyber progress. These changes are timely as Flashpoint’s report indicates attacks are on track to increase in 2023.

Senior Intelligence Analyst and Team Lead of APAC/EMEA for Flashpoint, Ben Gestier, says that there has never been a more pressing need for an all-hands on deck approach to cybercrime within the country. This was a sentiment in line with what Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced saying ‘strengthening Australia’s cybersecurity is a fundamental priority for us’.

“Australian security and intelligence teams that are responsible for protecting their assets, data, and infrastructure must resist identifying and mitigating cyber threats from within a silo. A nation’s risk landscape is too volatile and complex for a single business or government to decipher in full therefore they must all work together at this. An all-encompassing view of risk is needed to shore up defences and mitigate cyber-attacks when they occur,” says Gestier.

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