Medibank to shut down for security overhaul

Clare O'Neil is pursuing new laws to lock up offenders recently released from immigration detention.

Clare O'Neil is pursuing new laws to lock up offenders recently released from immigration detention. Photo: AAP

Medibank will go offline to complete an overhaul of its cyber security systems following the massive hack of its sensitive customer data.

The nation’s biggest health insurer will shut down its IT network, retail stores and customer call centre from 8.30pm on Friday until Sunday to “further strengthen systems and enhance security protections”.

“We apologise for the inconvenience this operation may cause customers but this is the next necessary phase of our ongoing work to further safeguard our network,” a statement on Thursday read.

Russian cyber criminals hacked Medibank’s customer database and stole the health records of almost 10 million current and former customers.

The hackers have since published the entirety of the data on the dark web, including that for procedures and conditions related to abortions and mental health disorders, following Medibank’s refusal to pay a $15 million ransom.

Medibank refuses to pay $15.5m ransom

New cyber security strategy

Meanwhile, a new cyber security strategy will be drawn up by global experts in a bid to make Australia the most secure nation in the world, having become “unnecessarily vulnerable”.

Cyber Security Minister Clare O’Neil announced the drafting of the 2023-2030 Australian Cyber Security Strategy at the National Press Club in Canberra on Thursday.

She also unveiled the expert advisory board that will develop the strategy.

It will be chaired by former Telstra chief executive Andrew Penn and also be led by former air force chief Mel Hupfeld and Cyber Security Co-operative Research Centre chief executive Rachael Falk.

Australia is ‘unnecessarily vulnerable’

“The cyber security strategy will help Australia bring the whole nation into the fight to protect our citizens and to protect our economy,” Ms O’Neil said.

“The truth is, in cyber security we are unnecessarily vulnerable. We did not do the work nationally over the last decade to help us prepare for this national challenge.”

She said Australia will start to “punch back” at hackers who mean to do the country harm.

Ms O’Neil also announced a “strengthening democracy” task force to protect Australia’s system of governance and defend it from threats so that the country “can be the light on the hill”.

She lashed the former Morrison government for its “xenophobic” rhetoric in national security matters.

‘Never confuse fighting words … with ability to deliver’

“We should never confuse fighting words with resolve and the commitment and ability to deliver,” she said.

“What I saw was so much public policy being designed not to make our country safer but to bludgeon or wedge Labor.”

Ms O’Neil said the nation faced “the most dangerous set of strategic circumstances since the Second World War” with climate change, cyber attacks and China’s increasing assertiveness threatening national security.

Australia was waking from a “cyber slumber” after the massive hacks of Medibank and Optus, she said.

The nation’s universities were under threat from having their research stolen, while foreign interference was undermining the strength of democratic systems.

“New tools of statecraft are bringing what would otherwise be global security challenges into the everyday lives and homes of our citizens,” she said.


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