Australia's Department of Defense announced April 7 that the country is engaged in an cyber operation against criminals attempting to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a press release, Defense Minister Linda Reynolds was quoted as saying the country's cyber intelligence agency is using its offensive capabilities to disrupt foreign criminals who have carried out a range of malicious activities against citizens and businesses during the coronavirus crisis.
"Cyber criminals that are using the cover of cyberspace and international borders to target Australians are not beyond our reach," the minister said. "We are hitting back through the Australian Signals Directorate, who have already successfully disrupted activities from foreign criminals by disabling their infrastructure and blocking their access to stolen information."
"Some of these cybercriminals have even posed as health officials in an attempt to exploit vulnerable Australians, by infecting their computers with malware and stealing their private information," she added.
The directorate's Australian Cyber Security Centre is working with the country's telecommunications providers to block access to malicious websites, and is working with Microsoft and Google to have those sites flagged as malicious, according to the defense department.
Rachel Noble, director-general of the directorate, said "Close cooperation with telecommunications and IT companies is vital in providing increased protective barriers for Australians from these heartless cyber criminals."
"Our offensive cyber campaign has only just begun and we will continue to strike back at these cyber criminals operating offshore as they attempt to steal money and data from Australians," Noble said.