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Australian Defence Force Communications Service Hit by Ransomware Attack

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ForceNet, a communications platform used by Australian military personnel and defense employees, is the latest victim of a data breach possibly leading to a ransomware attack.

The Australian defense sector is often targeted by hackers. However, the news of the cyberattack on ForceNet surfaced just weeks after Australia’s largest telecommunications company, Optus, and the country’s biggest health insurer, Medibank, suffered data breaches impacting millions.

Homepage of ForceNet’s website

Incident Details

In a report published by Reuters, Hackers targeted the ForceNet service run by an external provider. The Australian defense department contracts the service to run one of its websites. The attack took place earlier in October 2022. The department stressed that the attack didn’t breach its defense ICT systems.

Was Any Data Stolen?

According to Matt Thistlethwaite, assistant minister for defense, there is no evidence to believe that data belonging to serving and retired military personnel have been compromised. In an email to the entire team, the defense secretary stated that they are taking this matter ‘very seriously,’ and that the department is notifying all personnel, although no data was stolen.



“I want to stress that this isn’t an attack or a breach on defense (technology) systems and entities. At this stage, there is no evidence that the data set has been breached, that’s the data that this company holds on behalf of the defense.”

Matt Thistlethwaite

He urged all staff members to change their passwords and switch to the 2FA verification method quickly. The company will also provide cyber assistance to impacted military personnel.

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Why Sudden Surge in Cyberattacks?

In the past three years, there has been a sudden surge in cyber attacks against Australia. These attacks have targeted businesses, government agencies, and critical infrastructure providers. The reason for this surge is not fully understood, but there are several theories.

One theory is that Australia is seen as a soft target by international cyber criminals. Australia has not invested heavily in cyber security, and its critical infrastructure is not well protected. This makes it an attractive target for criminals who can exploit these vulnerabilities to steal data or cause disruptions.

Another theory is that the recent surge in cyber attacks against Australia is retaliation for the country’s involvement in international efforts to disrupt cybercrime. By targeting Australia, criminals are sending a message that they will not tolerate these efforts.

Whatever the reason for the surge in attacks, it is clear that Australia needs to do more to protect itself from these threats.



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