A rather large group of international cyber attackers have just attacked the Queensland Government, with cyber researchers being forced to defend against several potentially catastrophic barrage of online attacks. Just early last year, the state government’s cyber security experts detected and stopped more than 20 distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, during which an average of 8,000 dubious domain name system (DNS) requests per minute were blocked.
A DDoS intrusion normally involves swamping a network system, especially comms traffic with requests from multiple computer terminals in an effort to overload the system and can shut down several websites or even domains.
In a certain period from 2017-18, state government cyber security experts also managed to gather and examine an average of 400 million instances per day from more than 130 sources. These system events – threat intelligence or activities highlighted as threats of interest – were documented across the state government networks and were discovered by established security infrastructures, such as firewalls.
According to a spokesperson for The Housing and Public Works Department –
“While this is regarded as criminal activity, the specific intention of the attacks is unknown and the majority of attempts appear to have originated from various countries. However, cyber criminals behind such attempts often mask their true origin, therefore geographical information is not a true indicator of the source.”
In 2016, the Palaszczuk government created a whole-of-government Cyber Security Unit, sitting within the Chief Information Office, to enhance cyber security. Australian enterprises have suffered network outages and traffic intrusions following DDoS cyber attacks in the past. It left millions of users, mostly in the US and Europe, unable to access websites including Twitter, Spotify and Netflix.
Interruptions were also experienced by websites including ANZ, Coles, eBay and The Sydney Morning Herald. In May 2017, it was revealed that five of Queensland’s biggest hospitals were suffering from major network security problems after efforts to prevent a possible cyber attack backfired.
Security patches and network backups were installed in response to a global ransomware attack that affected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide, but the patches then caused system slowness.
Luckily, there were no patient safety issues that arose during that period.
Needless to say, The Australian Government, not just Queensland, needs now, more than ever – a robust plan to fend off cyber attacks and protect its people and its interests in order to maintain stability and peace of mind.