By David Southwell For Daily Mail Australia
The hacks of Optus and Medibank have exposed Australian companies’ online vulnerability, and industry figures say a major part of the problem is a shortage of people with cyber security expertise.
The federal government’s Cyber Security Sector Competitiveness Plan estimates the country faces a shortfall of 3000 cybersecurity workers by 2026, and the demand for the scarce workers means the average industry salary of $120,000 per year is only set to climb.
While the sensational theft of the personal data belonging to millions of Optus and Medibank customers has made headlines the blizzard of smaller cyber attacks aimed at Australians every day is perhaps even more frightening.
A government report says that Australia is facing a severe shortage of cybersecurity experts
An Australian with an online presence will be targeted by 745 cyber attacks every day, which means an attack every one to two minutes, according to a 2021 report.
Even more alarmingly the frequency of cyber attacks is expected to double over the next five years, according to the report.
The government plan, which has been updated four times, has been released ahead of a national cyber security event in Melbourne on Monday.
The estimate of average earnings of cybersecurity workers is derived from advertised positions on employment website Seek.
Cyber Security Minister Clare O’Neil said on Sunday Australians need to ‘wake up out of their cyber-slumber’ regarding the threat of online crime.
The Medibank hack has revealed the vulnerability of major Australian companies to online criminals
She told the ABC the Albanese government is preparing laws that will ban Australian companies from paying hackers’ ransom demands.
Ms O’Neil has also vowed to track down the ‘scumbags’ behind the Medibank hack, where hackers demanded the health insurer pay $15 million to stop the release of personal information about its customers – a demand the company refused.
The hacker released another 500 customer records on Monday, which included information on those who sought coverage for mental health treatment.
An earlier leak of data to the so-called ‘dark web’ revealed case histories of Medibank customers who had abortions or drug and alcohol treatments.
Medibank CEO David Koczkar on Monday ‘unreservedly apologised’ for what happened andcalled the people behind the hack ‘deplorable’.
‘We will continue to support all people who have been impacted by this crime through our Cyber Response Support Program,’ the told Seven News.
Cyber security minister Clare O’Neil says Australians need to wake up from their ‘c
‘This includes mental health and wellbeing support, identity protection and financial hardship measures.
‘If customers are concerned, they should reach out for support from our cybercrime hotline, our mental health support line, Beyond Blue, Lifeline or their GP.’
Medibank could be forced to pay out millions in damages with class action specialist law firm Maurice Blackburn looking into launching a lawsuit.
On Sunday Ms O’Neil also flagged a new elite unit to fight cybercrime.
The agency will bring together experts from the AFP and the Department of Defence’s Australian Signals Directorate and aim to ‘hack the hackers’.
However, Ms Neil said she could not promise hackers would be jailed in Australia because they were often foreign nationals.
Australians are targeted by 745 online attacks every day, which means one every one to two minutes
‘We’ve got people who are essentially being harboured by foreign governments,’ she said.
The hacker who stole the personal data of around 10 million current and former Optus customers in September has not yet been identified.
This is despite government promises that police were hot on their trail and were going to make announcements about the case, which didn’t happen.
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group