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One Business Affected As Global Cyber Attack Reaches Australia

Up to two more companies could be at risk.

14/05/2017 9:55 PM AEST | Updated 14/05/2017 10:04 PM AEST
Kacper Pempel / Reuters
The international attack hit 74 countries by using malicious ransomware.

The Federal government has confirmed an international cyber attack that hit at least 74 countries has reached Australia, with one local business "likely" to have been affected by malicious ransomware.

In an interview with SKY News on Sunday, the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security Dan Tehan said one Australian business has been targeted by the online attack and up to two more are currently at risk.

"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're trying to confirm that," he said.

"What I can say though [is] we're not talking about a government organisation or a hospital or anything like that. It is a business that has been impacted. We're obviously working with that business and the Australian Cyber Security Centre is engaging with them."

The global cyber attack, which has targeted the British healthcare system, involves ransomware, a kind of malware that encrypts data and locks out the user. Affected computers in the UK displayed a message saying users must pay a $300 ransom in bitcoin to retrieve files.

The malicious software is believed to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft computers which was reportedly identified by the National Security Agency in the U.S. and subsequently leaked to the internet.

In a statement provided to HuffPost Australia on Sunday, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security Alastair MacGibbon said, overall, "Australia has not been significantly affected" by the attack, although there are reports of other businesses being targeted.

"Australia has not been significantly affected by this global ransomware campaign to date. Organisations across Australia have been taking active steps to protect their networks over the weekend," the statement said.

"The Australian Cyber Security Centre has had one likely case of the wanacry ransomware. There are also a small number of reports made to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network that may be cases of this ransomware campaign, but these have yet to be confirmed."

The comments come after Tehan said the government was taking "all the necessary steps" to protect Australian organisations from an attack on Saturday afternoon.

Last year, prompted by online attacks, the Turnbull Government outlined a $230 million cyber safety plan, which Tehan believes has offered a degree of protection for Australia.

"This happens on a regular basis to Australian citizens. The cost of ransomware and other malware to the Australian economy is estimated to be around $1 billion a year," he said on Saturday.

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