Public sector organisations left vulnerable by ransomware attacks, cybersecurity expert urges measures for stronger protection – iTWire


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Health organisations, especially NFPs, are prone to ransomware attacks. A cybersecurity expert calls the government for protection given that health and essential services are now a priority due to COVID-19.

Attacks on essential services and the threat it poses to the public has led calls for authorities to provide digital protection for healthcare organisations, particularly not-for-profits (NFPs) whose systems operate outside the government.

It is believed that 85% of cyberattacks are criminally and financially motivated. Hackers are ruthless and aware of the damage they could inflict by derailing healthcare and essential services, especially at a time when these services are already under pressure due to COVID-19.

Cyber experts are concerned that important networks are becoming increasingly vulnerable. This could lead to further disruption to essential services across education, health, aged care, disability services, and social services.

Network Overdrive CEO Greg Clarkson notes that with so many essential services in Australia now being provided by NFPs, the government needs to ensure their IT and digital systems with confidential and critical information are not exposed to criminal networks.

Clarkson explains how ransomware infiltrates the system. “By the time a ransomware demand is delivered, a criminal syndicate has already been rifling through confidential data and files, looking for key information and triggers to leverage.”

“These criminal networks can not only hold services to ransom, they can use the IT systems of NFPs that work with government to infiltrate government networks and cause even greater damage,” Clarkson says.

He suggests that a Cyber Network Umbrella is needed, “under which the NFPs and other groups delivering essential services are afforded the best quality IT and data protection.”

Clarkson also urges organisations to hire IT consultants. For example, IronNet, a cybersecurity company, provides such services to clients. IronNet says that the public sector no longer can protect itself with a traditional approach to cybersecurity, as attacks become more sophisticated and malicious in recent times.

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