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Australia Passes New Legislation to allow Seizure of Crypto Assets used in cybercrime

Australian lawmakers are enhancing tougher measures to crack down on the use of cryptocurrencies to commit cybercrimes. The new penalties on these offenders come as the number of cyberattacks continues to surge. Last year, Australia reported a 60% increase in cyberattacks targeting businesses in the country and government agencies. Reports have stated that these attacks have led to financial losses of around $US 1 billion.

Ransomware Action Plan

On October 13, the Australian federal government announced the introduction of the Surveillance Legislation Amendment. Under this new legislation, authorities in the country will have the power to size cryptocurrencies used to settle financial transactions linked to cybercrime. Moreover, the seizure of these assets will be regardless of the country of origin.

The Ransomware Action Plan plans to modernize the existing legislation regarding these assets. The government plans to increase the chances of these cryptocurrencies being recovered after being stolen by cybercriminals or used for ransomware.

According to Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews, the new legislation will discourage threat actors from targeting businesses in Australia. “Our tough new laws will target this online criminality and hit cybercrooks where it hurts most – their bank balances,” Andrews stated.

Tough Measures to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

The recent legislation also seeks to criminalize handling stolen data and trading in the malware used in conducting ransomware attacks.

In July, Operation Orcus, a multi-agency task force, was created to deal with ransomware attacks. This task force was mainly formed to address the rise in attacks mostly originating from Russian threat actors. Some of the most notorious Russian hacking groups are DarkSide and REvil, popular for encrypting organizational data and then demanding ransom for this data to be decrypted.

As aforementioned, Australia has been a top target for ransomware attacks. Among the companies that have been targeted by these attacks include BlueScope Steel, Lion brewing company, Nine Entertainment, NSW Labor Party, Toll Holdings and Uniting Care Queensland.

In May, JBS meat processing company in Australia suffered a major attack that led to the company shutting down 47 locations in Australia.

The United States has also not been left behind in battling ransomware attacks. This month, Senator Elizabeth Warren, popular for her anti-crypto stand, proposed the Ransom Disclosure Act to collect information related to the use of cryptocurrency in ransomware attacks.

Last week, Chainalysis, a blockchain analytics firm, finalized the acquisition of Excygent to boost its fight against ransomware attacks.

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