Australia has expressed concern over ‘malicious’ hacking attacks across the world by cyber criminals and state-based actors targeting hospitals, medical services and facilities as well as crisis response organisations amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government ‘is concerned that malicious cyber actors are seeking to exploit the pandemic for their own gain,’ Australia's department of foreign affairs and its trade and cyber security centre said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

 ‘The Australian government calls on all countries to cease immediately any cyber activity - or support for such activity...’ Tobias Feakin, Australia's ambassador for cyber affairs, said in the statement, without saying who those countries were.

Australia had agreed with other countries at the United Nations to co-operate on cyber crime and not knowingly allow their territory to be used for ‘international wrongful acts.’   ‘We also urge all countries to exercise increased vigilance and take all reasonable measures to ensure malicious cyber activity is not emanating from their territory,’ Feakin added, according to the statement.

Australia was also assisting regional neighbours to fortify cyber defences during the coronavirus pandemic crisis.

 ‘The tradecraft used by malicious adversaries ranges from the simple to the very sophisticated,’ the Australian Cyber Security Centre's chief, Abigail Bradshaw, explained.

Earlier this month, the centre, which is part of the country's spy agency, the Australian Signals Directorate, warned that state-based hackers were actively targeting health sector organisations and medical research facilities amid the pandemic outbreak.

They ‘may be seeking information and intellectual property relating to vaccine development, treatments, research and responses to the outbreak,’ the centre said.

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