5 Most Common Cyber-Attacks on Australian Businesses

Cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly common, and it’s essential to be aware of the most common cyber-attacks that are targeting Australian businesses, and the steps you need to take to protect your data, clients, and employees.

In this article, we’ll explore the five most common cyber-attacks targeting Australian businesses and how to protect yourself from them.

Data breaches

The September 2022 Optus data breach was widely reported and affected an estimated 9.8 current and former Optus customers by exposing their personal information, including contact details, and passport and driver’s licence numbers. It’s surmised the cybercriminal group gained access through an unauthorised API endpoint. Investigations into the attack are still underway.

There are several ways to protect yourself from data breaches. Firstly, it’s essential to conduct regular cyber security assessments to identify any vulnerabilities or weaknesses in your systems and network. Additionally, you should ensure that your employees are trained on various cyber security policies and practices, such as avoiding clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown senders. Cyber security tools such as data encryption, will help protect your data from cybercriminals who may steal it during a data breach.


Ransomware is a type of malicious software that locks your systems or threatens to publish or delete your data. In many cases, ransomware holds your data hostage until you pay a ransom for its safe return. The Melbourne Heart Group was the victim of a ransomware attack in February 2019 that compromised 15,000 patient files. The MHG was locked out of its compromised data for three weeks and was eventually forced to pay the bitcoin ransom.

Over the past few years, ransomware attacks have become increasingly common; in fact, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has noted that the healthcare sector is the most targeted industry in Australia.

You can take several steps to protect yourself from ransomware attacks, including regularly updating your systems, educating your employees on ransomware, and creating a response plan in the event that your business is attacked by ransomware.


Phishing emails often appear to be from legitimate organisations and even attempt to use fear or urgency to get users to click on them; however, they contain malicious links or attachments that could install malware or viruses on your computer or network.

Over 90% of Australian businesses reported a successful phishing attack over 2021/22 – the highest of any country and a 53% year-on-year increase. It’s crucial to educate your employees on how to spot phishing attacks, what to do in the event of an attack, and not to open links from unknown senders.

To identify a phishing attack, look for warning signs like an unexpected request, bad grammar or spelling, or a request to transfer money or provide sensitive information, such as your credit card details. You can also rely on a spam filter to protect you from phishing emails, as many modern spam filters have anti-phishing capabilities.


A distributed-denial-of-service (DDOS) attack is designed to disrupt your operations by flooding your computer systems with high volumes of traffic. During a DDOS attack, malicious actors send your network a high volume of requests that overload your systems, preventing your employees from accessing key systems or data. These attacks can temporarily disrupt your operations or cause significant damage to your computer systems.

DDOS attacks hit record highs against the Australian financial services industry across 2021/22, in patterns that suggested the same cybercrime group was behind certain attacks.

Implementing a high-quality firewall, regularly updating your systems, and educating your employees on various cyber-security best practices will help protect against successful DDOS attacks.


In 2021, the top malware strains included remote access Trojans and banking Trojans. A Trojan Horse is a type of malware that is disguised as a legitimate file. Trojans are designed to infect a computer and take control of it, allowing the attacker to gain access to sensitive information, steal data, or launch other malicious activities. Trojans are often used as part of an attack to gain access to a network and spread additional malware.

The best way to protect against Trojans is to keep your operating system and applications up to date, using strong passwords, and avoiding suspicious emails, links, and attachments. Additionally, it is important to have a reliable anti-malware solution installed on your system, as this will help to detect and block malicious software.

Protect your business against cyber-attacks with expert help

Cyber crime, as a whole, continues to be a significant challenge for businesses worldwide. As the world becomes more digital every year, cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly common.

The cyber security specialists at Essential Tech will audit your business, advise you on the right security solutions for your working needs, and can manage your entire IT environment for maximum protection.

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