Australian Data: The Favoured Target for Cyber Attackers

by | Jul 10, 2024

In a recent conversation with Mark Stevens, an IT security manager for a mid-sized financial firm in Sydney, it became evident just how dire the cybersecurity landscape has become in Australia. As reported by Emily, the findings from Rubrik Zero Labs underscore a troubling trend: Australian organizations are experiencing data breaches at an alarmingly high rate.

Mark was candid about his experiences, providing a firsthand account that paints a vivid picture of what many Australian firms are grappling with. “In 2023, we faced multiple cyberattacks, and it felt like we were constantly on high alert,” he shared. “The most disconcerting part was the frequency and sophistication of these breaches. We were hit multiple times, and it became clear that our data was a prime target.”

The Rubrik Zero Labs report supports Mark’s observations, noting that data breaches in Australia were nearly 50% more common than the global average. The report, which surveyed 1,625 IT and security decision-makers from various countries, found that 82% of local organizations experienced a cyberattack in 2023. Within these attacks, data breaches were the most prevalent, making up 54% of incidents, compared to a global average of 38%.

Mark explained, “We’ve invested heavily in perimeter security over the past decade, thinking it would keep us safe. But the reality is, these attackers are relentless and always evolving. We’ve had to shift our focus towards cyber resilience, ensuring that we can recover quickly if, or rather when, we get breached.”

The need for cyber resilience, rather than just prevention, was echoed by Antoine Le Tard, Rubrik VP in Asia-Pacific and Japan. Le Tard emphasized that Australia’s status as a mature market and early adopter of cloud technologies has made it a lucrative target for cyber attackers. With many organizations adopting hybrid environments, attacks span across all facets of their infrastructure. Notably, cloud environments were the most targeted, with 75% of local respondents reporting malicious activity.

Mark elaborated on this point, saying, “Our cloud instances have been particularly vulnerable. Despite our best efforts, the attackers seem to find ways to exploit weaknesses. We’ve had to re-evaluate our entire security posture and prioritize protecting sensitive data like PHI and PII.”

The Rubrik report also highlighted that SaaS environments and on-premise infrastructures were not spared, with 60% and 46% of respondents respectively reporting malicious activity. Additionally, ransomware attacks accounted for more than a third of local cyber incidents, with a staggering 97% of enterprises paying a ransom to recover data or stop an attack.

Reflecting on these statistics, Mark noted, “We had to pay a ransom on one occasion. It was a tough decision, but at that moment, it seemed like the only way to recover our data and keep our operations running. This experience has taught us that we can’t rely solely on our defenses; we need robust recovery plans in place.”

Le Tard’s insights further amplify the urgency of this shift in strategy. “The high percentage of businesses paying a ransom following an encryption event suggests many Australian organizations are placing too much faith in perimeter defenses. They simply aren’t prepared to recover their own data following a successful attack.”

Mark’s experience is a stark reminder that the cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving, and Australian firms must adapt to stay ahead of threats. As he concluded, “It’s a never-ending battle, but we have to stay vigilant and resilient. Our data is too valuable to leave unprotected.”

By Emily