Security risks to our computer networks are unfortunately now part of doing business. The growing frequency and sophistication of cyber incidents are staggering.

They can come from just about anywhere at any time.

Incidents range from employee negligence and accidental loss of data, through to targeted attacks involving extortion, theft and data destruction.

Unprotected and under-prepared Councils leave themselves exposed to some pretty severe consequences.

Show Me the Money

Cyber criminals have dollar signs in their eyes. There are enormous financial gains to be made, and these unsavoury characters are raking in the cash hand over fist.

In Australia, recent data suggests the average cost of a cyber-crime attack on an organisation is a staggering $276,3231. Denial of service attacks, which prevent legitimate users from using a computer system or network, and malicious acts of employees top the list.

The constant evolution of information technology heightens criminals’ ability to make bank from each security breach. More and more organisations and individuals are becoming interconnected through computer and social media networks.

Gaining access to these ever-expanding networks significantly magnifies the potential riches per attack.

Recent Member Experiences with Cyber-Crime

Closer to home, two Members have recently had first-hand experiences with cyber-crime.

In the first incident, an Upper North Shore Council was sent emails from a contractor’s address asking to hold off paying a $33,000 invoice.

The contractor’s network had been hacked.

A further fraudulent email was sent advising a change to the contractor’s bank account details. Council have then paid the invoice into the new account. The bank of the ‘new’ account was contacted, upon which they advised Council they had previously identified the account as ‘suspect’ and frozen it.

Fortunately, Council is covered for ‘Erroneous Funds Transfer’ under Statewide Mutual’s Crime Scheme, though there’s hope the funds can still be recovered from the bank.

The second incident involved an employee of an eastern Sydney Council receiving an email from a non-member council. The email claimed that important documents could be accessed by clicking on a link provided.

The employee did just that.

They were then taken to a fake Office 365 login screen where they entered their email address and password. The cyber criminals then immediately used remote access to connect to Council’s email system, posing as a known small business.

A fake invoice was emailed to Council’s Accounts Payable department. The hackers then intercepted their own fake email and replied to it, providing clarification to Procurement.

Luckily the scam was stopped in its tracks by a requirement for a purchase order to be generated by software that was inaccessible remotely.

Tackling the Scourge of Cyber-Crime

It’s a cat and mouse game to merely stay abreast of new cyber threats.

On a daily basis, authorities scramble to identify tactics criminals use to break into networks. It comes as no surprise that once a threat is addressed and protective measures are taken, a new threat will rear its ugly head.

But there’s a lot Members can do to lessen the impact of cyber incidents.

As explained in our new Cyber Security Fact Sheet, Members can access advice and report incidents to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) and the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

The ASD also provides free resources on how to protect an information and computer technology (ICT) network and offers an up-to-date evaluated product list of ICT products suitable for use by local government.

Reporting incidents has the added benefit of assisting the ASD to build an intelligence picture of the ever-changing cyber threat environment.

Member Access to Post-Breach Assistance

The Cyber Security Fact Sheet also introduces underwriter Zurich’s DigitalResolve solution.

The solution provides Members with access to a dedicated and experienced breach response team to manage any cyber incident from initial notification through to resolution. A hotline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

What’s more, all Members reporting incidents are assigned an Incident Manager who’ll provide support from start to finish.

Like to Know More?

For more information, including how Council can access Zurich’s DigitalResolve solution, please talk with your Regional Risk Manager or Account Chair.


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