Pandemic has increased cyber security risks for government and businesses

Coronavirus: pandemic has increased cyber vulnerabilities for businesses, governments, as ASIO says Australia is 'less safe'

National News
ASIO director-general Mike Burgess said the pandemic has made Australia 'less safe'. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

ASIO director-general Mike Burgess said the pandemic has made Australia 'less safe'. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong


A global weapons company said the rush for companies to work from home has increased cyber security risks.


The almost instant move to working and socialising from home due to coronavirus has left Australian businesses and homes vulnerable to cyber attacks as communication and data has moved to insecure online platforms.

Even decisions made by the National Cabinet have been made using vulnerable telecommunications technology, a global military company has warned, at the same time Australia's security agency is warning the pandemic has made the country "less safe".

As Australian businesses heeded government calls for workers to stay home instead of heading into offices around the country, the rapid and often unplanned move "has vastly increased the nation's attack surface," Northrop Grumman says.

"Corporations that previously had their data locked down behind secured networks were sharing their data via variously secured home computers and tablets using communication technologies that potentially contained security vulnerabilities."

These moves have increased the avenues that can be infiltrated, the weapons manufacturer has warned, and an attack on the health system during the pandemic could have "devastating results".

The Australian Cyber Security Centre has already warned households and businesses to be alert for threats during the pandemic, including scams and hacking attempts. Australia's cyber ambassador has also issued a warning to state actors about international cyber attacks seen on health infrastructure overseas.

Cyber security within the federal government has also been under scrutiny, with recent reports finding almost all government agencies were struggling to implement required measures, and many were vulnerable to cyber threats.


Australian Security Intelligence Organisation boss Mike Burgess has also pointed the finger at the increase of people at home and online and "increased chatter in the online world when it comes to the spread of extremist ideology attempting to radicalise people."

As well as extremists and cybercrime, Mr Burgess said espionage efforts had not taken a backseat during the pandemic

"More activity online of people, spies are constrained on the streets, so the problem hasn't gone away, in some cases things have got busier, especially in the online space."

Last year Australia's intelligence agencies were given new powers to allow access to encrypted communication, but Mr Burgess rebuked tech companies that don't cooperate with requests.

"As a society, whether we know it or not we've accepted the fact that the police or ASIO can get a warrant to bug someone's car or someone's house," Mr Burgess said.

"Why should cyberspace be any different, yet every time we have these conversations with the private sector companies, they kind of push back and say, 'No, we're not so sure about that?'"

New ASIO legislation is before parliament and Mr Burgess hit back at criticism that the agency keeps asking for new powers with no oversight as "simple nonsense".

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The story Pandemic has increased cyber security risks for government and businesses first appeared on The Canberra Times.