Australia’s cybersecurity dances, encrypted attacks spiral upwards.

December 15, 2023
1 min read
  • Australia ranks within the top five nations targeted by encrypted cyber attacks, according to a report by Zscaler.
  • The report showed a drastic 290% rise in ad spyware site attacks in the APAC region alongside a 24% year-on-year proliferation in threats over HTTPS.
  • Manufacturing was the most attacked industry while education and government sectors demonstrated the largest year-on-year increases in attack incidences.
  • Zscaler recommends a shift towards Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) solutions and use of AI/ML models to block or isolate malicious traffic.

Despite Australia’s efforts to become the most cyber-secure country by 2030, the country is experiencing an alarming rise in encrypted cyber-attacks, making it one of the top five nations in this threat category. A new study conducted by cloud-based information security company Zscaler has revealed this unsettling trend.

According to Zscaler, 86% of the detected threats, including malware, ransomware, and phishing attempts, were delivered through encrypted channels. Most noteworthy was a 290% surge in ad spyware site attacks in the Asia-Pacific region.

From an industry perspective, manufacturing was the most targeted for the second year running, followed by the education, and government sectors, which saw the most significant increases in attack cases. Encrypted malware and malicious content emerged as the dominant threat, accounting for 78% of the observed cyber attacks.

Deepen Desai, Chief Security Officer at Zscaler, underscored the importance of adopting a Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) solution, allowing IT teams to inspect TLS traffic at scale. He argued that this approach is vital in blocking threats and preventing data breaches considering that nearly 95% of web traffic now flows over HTTPS, and 86% of advanced threats propagate over encrypted channels.

The report also pointed out the potential risks posed by the extensive use of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) in the manufacturing sector. The report suggests that the increased dependency on these technologies could broaden the industry’s attack surface. Meanwhile, the education and government sectors recorded a 276% and 185% year-on-year increase in encrypted attacks, respectively.

Zscaler’s comprehensive solutions include implementing a zero trust architecture to secure all connectivity and utilising AI/ML models to block or isolate malicious traffic. Furthermore, the company advises using a cloud-native, proxy-based architecture that can decrypt, detect, and prevent threats in all encrypted traffic at scale, thereby fortifying the business’s defences against increasingly sophisticated encrypted attacks.

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