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Under new legislation, Australian authorities will be able to seize or freeze cryptocurrencies linked to cybercrime.
With a new plan that increases penalties for offenders, Australian lawmakers are taking a tougher stance against ransomware.
The federal government announced new measures and a proposed Surveillance Legislation Amendment on Wednesday, following a 60% increase in cyberattacks on Australian businesses and state agencies last year. According to reports, these incursions cost the economy AU$1.4 billion (around $1 billion dollars).
The Ransomware Action Plan would give authorities the power to seize or freeze financial transactions in cryptocurrencies that are associated with cybercrime regardless of the country of origin.
The government aims to modernize current legislation to make it easier for authorities to try and recover crypto funds stolen by cybercriminals.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said that the new measures were designed to deter the targeting of Australian businesses by international hackers. “Our tough new laws will target this online criminality, and hit cybercrooks where it hurts most — their bank balances,” she added.
Dealing with stolen data, as well as buying and selling malware used in ransomware attacks, will be made illegal.
In July, a multi-agency task force called Operation Orcus was formed to combat ransomware attacks. The majority of the attacks originated in Russia, with the use of malware such as REvil or DarkSide, which encrypts or steals data before demanding a cryptocurrency ransom.
Several ransomware attacks on Australian targets have recently occurred, including Uniting Care Queensland, brewing company Lion, Nine Entertainment, the NSW Labor Party, Toll Holdings, and BlueScope Steel. The attack on the JBS meat processing company in May forced it to close all 47 of its Australian facilities.
Legislators in the United States are also stepping up efforts to combat ransomware. Anti-crypto Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the Ransom Disclosure Act earlier this month, with the goal of gathering data on the role of cryptocurrency in ransomware attacks.
Chainalysis, a blockchain analytics firm, purchased cybercrime investigation firm Excygent last Wednesday to bolster its arsenal in the ongoing war against ransomware.