The Australian government is set to issue a complete ban on ransomware payments after one of its major financial lenders became the target of a massive file-encrypting malware attack on March 16th this year.
As the victim received a ransom demand in Tornado Cash on April 11th, 2023, the Albanese-led government is considering banning cryptocurrency usage and circulation to block ransomware payments.
Technically, transactions related to digital cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Monero are anonymous and therefore hard to ban. However, law enforcement is increasingly able to track such payments by using sophisticated blockchain-driven software. Imposing a ban might prove practically impossible, but it can be done if certain open-source tools are used wisely.
The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), under the leadership of Cyber Security Minister Clare O’Neil, is urging victims not to pay a ransom as there is no guarantee that the information will be returned instead of being sold online. However, making such payments illegal might not be possible, says Andy Penn, the former CEO of Telstra and currently serving as a lead at ACSC.
Note: Paying a ransom carries the risk of the hacker treating the victim as a soft target and launching digital attacks at regular intervals to test the company’s cyber immunity skills.