‘Growing threat’: Major cyber warning

Defence minister Richard Marles said the reported cyber figures are just the tip of the iceberg. Picture: Martin Ollman/NCA NewsWire.

China has been named the main actor of state-sponsored cyber attacks against Australia amid warnings of a nationwide surge in cybercrime.

An annual cyber threat report released on Tuesday revealed 94,000 cyber incidents have been reported over the past financial year with the cost of attacks on small businesses rising on average to $46,000.

The report flagged that attacks on federal government agencies and critical infrastructure have also increased, with state-sponsored cyber hacks pinned as a serious concern. Chinese state-backed hackers were identified as a leading culprit of cyberwarfare, alongside Russia and Iran.

Australia reported a 23 per cent increase in cyber attacks during 2022-23.

Foreign cyber actors are increasingly crippling local businesses, the report said, with the most common form of attack being “compromised emails”where a scammer uses email to trick someone into sending money or divulging confidential company information.

Individuals are the most vulnerable to identify fraud, online banking fraud, and online shopping fraud.

Defence Minister Richard Marles said recent global and national events have demonstrated the growing threat to Australia by “malicious cyber actors.”

“The Annual Cyber Threat Report demonstrates how governments, businesses and critical infrastructure networks have been targeted by state and non-state actors, to destabilise and disrupt,” he said.

“We know that the best cyber defences are founded on genuine partnerships. The development of this report, which draws on insights from across the Commonwealth Government, our international partners, Australian industry and the community, is a testament to this collaboration.”