An Australian business has fallen victim to a global malware attack and there are investigations into two other reports, the federal government says.
The so-called ransomware has wormed its way into thousands of computer systems in an apparent extortion plot, shutting users out unless they coughed up a payment.
Cyber Security Minister Dan Tehan says the government has received reports of the private sector being impacted, but not commonwealth organisations.
“There has been one incident of the ransomware hitting a business here in Australia and there could be two other incidents where it has occurred, although we are trying to confirm that,” Mr Tehan told Sky on Sunday evening.
“We’re not talking about a government organisation or a hospital or anything like that.
“We’re obviously working with that business, the Australian Cyber Security Centre is engaging with them.”
Earlier on Sunday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said authorities were working to confirm if the reports were linked to the global attack.
“The difficulty is, of course, there are literally hundreds of instances of ransomware in Australia each week, so we’re currently seeking to confirm whether these are examples of the particular ransomware that has caused so much havoc for example in the United Kingdom,” she told reporters in Cairns.
Mr Tehan said Australian business boardrooms needed to be conscious of the impacts of ransomware.
“And we’ve got to make sure at a departmental level, government level, departmental heads … that they’re taking the necessary steps,” he told Sky.
“They’re aware of this. They became aware of it when we had the incident with the Census, so there are no excuses. They get well resourced for their information technology.”
In Perth, Senator Scott Ludlam warned Australians to keep their computers up to date against such threats and hit out against cyberweapon creation by the US.
“We’ve seen what happens when the US NSA (National Security Agency) … develops hacking tools, effectively weapons for breaking in to ordinary people’s computers then loses control of one of those exploits that has then been effectively weaponised by a criminal organisation that is now seeking to ransom people,” he told reporters.
“I think we need to keep a much closer eye on what government agencies are doing with these cyber weapons .. because they could’ve tipped off the government, they could have tipped off users of these operating systems but they didn’t, they kept those exploits to themeslves.”
The ransomware attack struck British National Health Service organisations, along with computer networks of companies and municipalities in dozens of other countries.
A number of hospitals in England and Scotland were forced to cancel procedures after dozens of NHS systems were brought down in Friday’s attack.
Spanish telco giant Telefonica and US delivery service FedEx were among the businesses affected.