AUSTRAC builds financial services to help fight ransomware
The federal government has stepped up its oversight of cybercrimes targeting businesses with ransomware and the criminal use of digital currencies.
As a preventive measure, AUSTRAC released two new guides on Thursday with practical information and indicators to help businesses identify and report criminal activity.
But in an effort to help vulnerable Australians out of trouble, AUSTRAC has shifted the blame onto financial service providers.
The government’s financial intelligence agency said financial services played a “crucial role” in protecting Australians from ransomware and the criminal use of digital currencies, noting they needed to understand the financial indicators of these types of crimes and report suspicious financial activity to AUSTRAC.
“Financial service providers should be alert to signs of criminal use of digital currencies, including their use in ransomware attacks,” said AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose.
The first guide, titled ‘Detect and stop ransomware-related financial crime’asks financial services firms to use a combination of indicators and business intelligence to monitor and identify potential suspicious activity.
“When suspicious activity is identified, enhanced customer due diligence should be conducted in accordance with the company’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (AML/CTF) program,” says guide.
“Intelligence and information shared by financial services companies is essential in helping AUSTRAC and its government partners protect the Australian community and financial system from criminals.”
The second attendant, “Preventing the criminal abuse of financial crime related to digital currencies”provides guidance for financial service providers wishing to review their transaction profiling and monitoring programs.
“Financial service providers should use the indicators in this guide and their own business knowledge to conduct further monitoring and determine whether a suspected case report should be submitted to AUSTRAC,” the guide states.
According to the Australian Cyber Security Center (ACSC), 500 ransomware attacks were reported in the 2020-21 financial year, an increase of nearly 15% from the previous year.
On the digital currency front, as the market continues to grow globally, criminals are increasingly using digital currencies to commit a range of serious crimes.
“The use of digital currencies for criminal purposes has no place in our industry,” said Steve Vallas, CEO of Blockchain Australia.
“Open dialogue, proactive advice and strong government-industry relationships are needed to ensure companies can identify and report behaviors that put Australians at risk of harm.”
The ransomware guide can be accessed here, while the digital currencies guide can be found here.