The AFP is Scouring the Earth For Cybercriminals

September 17, 2023

The AFP is scouring the earth for cybercriminals. Stay informed on international efforts to combat digital threats and protect online security.

As COVID-19 spread, scams have emerged around the world – impersonating public authorities, organizations and even individual staff (MalwareBytes). This is a result of changes to working practices and increasing rates of unemployment that have people sitting at home online for longer periods of time. These factors have led to an increase in cyber-attacks and crime.

AFP’s extradition of Russian hacker

AFP officers are deployed both domestically and internationally to fight crime in Australia. Their focus is on preventing, investigating and disrupting complex and serious transnational crime that impacts Australia’s national security. This includes countering terrorism and violent extremism, cybercrime, drug trafficking, child exploitation and human smuggling.

The AFP’s international deployments include providing specialist protection services at airports, protecting dignitaries and VIPs, conducting law enforcement training for Asia-Pacific partners and contributing to United Nations peacekeeping around the globe. The AFP has been involved in peacekeeping operations since 1964. Previous deployments have included Cyprus, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Nauru and Timor-Leste.

Another notable AFP operation is the arrest of two members of the Bali Nine drug courier gang in Indonesia. The AFP contacted the father of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, and he informed them that his sons were traveling to Indonesia in order to smuggle drugs. As a result, the AFP arrested them in Indonesia rather than when they returned to Australia.

The AFP has also been active in investigating the recent spate of attacks against healthcare organizations and their customers. These hacks have been linked to Russia’s GRU military intelligence service, and have cost the NHS millions of pounds in ransom payments. These incidents highlight the need for the AFP to continue scouring the earth for cybercriminals, and their efforts should not be underestimated.

AFP’s investigation into Medibank hack

The AFP is investigating the hack of Australian health insurance giant Medibank. It’s a case that could have significant consequences for people who may be victimised by cybercrime in the future. The AFP is working with overseas law enforcement agencies to identify the hackers. It has also warned of a rising trend of Russian cybergangs targeting companies and holding them to ransom. Security experts say that these gangs are becoming increasingly sophisticated and have received state support from the Russian regime.

The hackers stole the personal data of 9.7 million current and former Medibank customers. The information included names, dates of birth, home addresses, phone numbers, Medicare and passport details, and bank accounts. They threatened to release the data on the dark web unless the company paid them a ransom. It was one of Australia’s biggest data breaches ever.

However, the company refused to pay and instead worked with government agencies to investigate the hackers. It’s now been revealed that the hackers were linked to a well-known Russian cybercriminal gang called REvil. The AFP is seeking talks with Russian police authorities to track down the group.

Cybercrime has a real impact on real people, and the victims of these attacks are often unaware that they’re being targeted. One study found that nearly a third of adults have had their personal details stolen in a major cyber attack. This could have serious repercussions for them, such as identity theft and fraud.

In addition to the financial and legal consequences of cybercrime, people can experience psychological trauma. Many have been raped, harassed or bullied online. They can also suffer from social isolation and a lack of mental health support. The exploitation of private information is particularly damaging for children. The hackers’ threat to release the data was malicious, according to a behavioural expert who has studied hacker behaviour.

The AFP is monitoring the clear, deep and dark web for any sales of Medibank customer data. It’s part of its Operation Guardian, which is a broad-based operation against digital crime. It will prosecute anyone who is found trying to profit from or exploit the data, or who commits a crime.

AFP’s extradition of Optus hacker

Two weeks after a data breach by the Australian telecoms company Optus exposed personal information on thousands of customers, a hacker has been arrested in Sydney. The man, who is 19, is not suspected of being the person responsible for the breach, but he did try to financially benefit from it. He posted the stolen data on an online forum under the name “optusdata” and tried to extort money from the victims. Police said he sent text messages to 93 Optus customers demanding they transfer $2,000 to his bank account or face having their personal details used for financial crimes. AFP officers identified a bank account in the man’s name and executed a search warrant at his house.

Upon his arrest, the man apologized for his actions and told Optus that he had no intention of selling or leaking any more data. He also said that he was sorry for the inconvenience caused to Optus customers. He claimed that he could not release more data because he had personally deleted the drive that held the information.

The AFP will allege that the 19-year-old Sydney man accessed the 10,200 records that were leaked after the cyber attack and attempted to extort a ransom from Optus customers. The force added that it appears none of the 93 Optus customers who received the blackmailing text message transferred the demanded money.

Police are working with the Australian Cyber Security Centre to identify the person responsible for the data breach. They are also investigating the possible use of the stolen information for financial crime, such as identity fraud and phishing attacks. They are also pursuing lines of inquiry to identify any foreign involvement in the breach.

The AFP is Australia’s national police service, which enforces criminal law and provides specialist protection services to Commonwealth establishments both in Australia and overseas. It is also committed to assisting regional and remote countries with capacity building. This has led to AFP deployments in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste and Nauru. The AFP has also conducted peacekeeping missions in Haiti, Mozambique and Afghanistan.

AFP’s extradition of a Chinese hacker

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is the nation’s law enforcement agency responsible for policing and investigating complex, transnational and serious crime affecting Australia. Its responsibilities include countering terrorism and violent extremism, cybercrime, child exploitation, drug trafficking and people smuggling. The AFP also works to protect the country’s borders and secure vital infrastructure. It is a member of the Five Eyes security network and works closely with other Australian agencies such as the Australian Security Intelligence Organization and the Australian Border Force.

In addition to its domestic investigations, the AFP has a long tradition of international policing and capacity building. AFP officers are regularly deployed overseas in order to help remote and developing nations build their police capabilities. This work is often conducted through bilateral agreements with other countries.

For example, the AFP recently provided training to the Indonesian police in the wake of the Bali Nine drug courier gang scandal. The AFP also worked with Indonesian authorities to track and arrest the gang members in their home country rather than when they returned to Australia, which led to their conviction and execution in 2015.

Kershaw’s comments about Russia are no surprise to many observers given that the AFP has some significant runs on the board when it comes to extraditing Russian hackers. However, the AFP has been careful not to cross the red line into the area of state sovereignty.

Those who have committed cybercrimes deserve to be punished just as anyone else would. It is important for law enforcement and diplomats to work together in bringing them to justice. In the case of cybercriminals, that should be done as quickly and efficiently as possible, preventing them from stealing Americans’ hard-earned money and ideas for nefarious purposes.

Ammar Fakhruddin

ABOUT AUTHOR

Ammar brings in 18 years of experience in strategic solutions and product development in Public Sector, Oil & Gas and Healthcare organizations. He loves solving complex real world business and data problems by bringing in leading-edge solutions that are cost effective, improve customer and employee experience. At Propelex he focuses on helping businesses achieve digital excellence using Smart Data & Cybersecurity solutions.


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