Payment platforms under scrutiny from AUSTRAC cyber team

In an effort to stymie terrorism funding and financial crime, AUSTRAC has established a team to look into online platforms being used for money laundering.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has taken aim at terrorism financing, money laundering, and financial fraud by setting up a new "cyber team".

"The new cyber team will use financial and cyber intelligence to investigate online payment platforms and financial cybercrime to crack down on money-laundering and criminal networks," Australian Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said in a statement today.

Keenan said AUSTRAC will also be working with Australia and New Zealand's national identity support service, iDcare, to look at recruitment scams used to gather money mules.

"iDcare has identified 197 clients who have experienced a job scam, and 41 cases where innocent people were duped into laundering funds," he said.

"The team will also work with the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) Joint Management Group (JMG) to identify patterns and trends that could indicate large-scale financial scams or their methodology."

The efforts of AUSTRAC fall under the Australian government's AU$240 million Cyber Security Strategy announced in April. The funding arrangements for the strategy were released in the 2016-17 Budget.

The strategy aims to defend the nation's cyber networks from organised criminals and state-sponsored attackers, and sits alongside the AU$400 million provided in the Defence White Paper for cyber activities.

During the Cyber Strategy launch, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that the role of Special Adviser on Cyber Security within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet would be filled by current e-safety commissioner Alastair MacGibbon.

MacGibbon has said his main priority is to fix what he refers to as the broken model of cybersecurity in Australia, and thinks the country's current approach to cybersecurity is flawed, and simply employing more people in security roles will not fix it.

"If all we do is increase the staff, which we rightly should be doing ... we are actually going to fail," he said.

"This is about resilience. This is about educating the public to reduce the likely threat vectors. This is about working with companies to reduce their threat vectors, so we reduce the likelihood of a breach, and by the way, if there is a breach, we would have a better understanding of what has actually occurred."

In his post-election Cabinet reshuffle, Turnbull handed the role of minister assisting the Prime Minister on cybersecurity to Dan Tehan, who also has responsibilities as the Minister for Defence Personnel and Minister for Veterans' Affairs.

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