Victoria cancels 590 fines in wake of WannaCry infection

The Victorian government has cancelled 590 fines after 55 of the state's speed and red-light cameras were hit with WannaCry ransomware.

Victoria's Acting Deputy Commissioner Ross Guenther told reporters on Friday that about 590 fines issued from the speed and red-light cameras found to be infected with WannaCry have been cancelled.

The WannaCry ransomware that claimed hundreds of thousands of victims across 150 countries most recently found itself on 55 speed and red-light cameras on state roads in Victoria.

It was revealed on Thursday that 55 cameras in Victoria belonging to vehicle monitoring and enforcement service Redflex were infected with the ransomware after a rogue USB was inserted by someone performing maintenance on the now-infected cameras.

It is understood that the infection came as a result of "human error" rather than a targeted attack aimed at holding the Australian state to ransom.

The cameras are not connected to the internet, however, which means the ransomware has not been spread throughout the field, Radio 3AW reported.

Redflex Traffic Systems -- which has its Australian head office located in Melbourne -- said it has a patch to fix the infected devices, but it is yet to respond to further contact from ZDNet.

"Importantly, only three of those [tickets] resulted in loss of licence infringements," Guenther said.

It is incidents such as WannaCry that has prompted the Australian government to take a closer look at global cyber-related incidents, announcing the launch of a cyber taskforce on Friday.

"The prime minister spoke on Tuesday about cybersecurity and as a result of the WannaCry near miss, asked to accelerate a cyber crime commission and we've done that -- we've created a taskforce," Australia's Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security Alastair MacGibbon said.

Also prompting the cyber taskforce is the alleged interference from Russian actors in the lead up to the 2016 United States presidential election.

Speaking at the Emerging Cyber Threats Summit in Sydney earlier this month, Jacob Boyle from MacGibbon's team at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said it's the "hack and release of sensitive information from the US Democratic National Committee" that has emerged as a game-changer for democratic governments across the world, including in Australia.

"The 2016 US presidential election demonstrated how targeted disclosures -- stolen information -- can interfere with processes," he explained. "This interference broke new ground for unacceptable behaviour and tested concepts around public attribution, response, and effective deterrence."

The issue, Boyle explained, is broader than just malicious cyber actors hacking and publishing emails of political parties to embarrass and cause doubt; rather it extends to influencing the outcomes of elections.

Also on the priority list for the cyber taskforce is protecting against government infrastructure, such as the outage experienced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Census night in August last year.

The ABS experienced a series of denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, suffered a hardware router failure, and baulked at a false positive report of data being exfiltrated, which resulted in the Census website being shut down and citizens unable to complete their online submissions.

With AAP

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