Topics: Morrison Government’s strong support for cyber security; work of IDCARE.
ANDREW WALLACE: I can’t say this very often at a press conference: ‘what a croc!’ Look cybersecurity is everybody’s responsibility here in Australia, we know that people in the bush are four times more likely to be impacted upon by cyber scams than people who live in the city. I’m very proud to be part of a government that has provided $6.1 million to IDCARE; an organisation that represents the whole of the country in helping people – all Australians – to be able to really combat what really are, scum of the Earth in my view. These people who operate from overseas, often in organised crime syndicates. That their sole objective is to steal money from what is often vulnerable Australians; it really gets my blood-boiled. I’m so angry that so many Australians lose so much money to cyber scammers. We all know it; we’ve all seen it; we’ve all experienced it. Where someone has rung up on your mobile phone and said, you know, ‘welcome to Microsoft’, ‘we’re here to help you’. They are becoming more and more sophisticated as days go by. Everybody has been called and we are seeing a 54 per cent increase in the number of scams in the first six months of 2021 from 2020. 54 per cent increase in the number of scams – but a 74 per cent increase in the value of that scam. That should really cause every Australian to say, ‘enough is enough, we’ve got to do more’. The federal government is partnering with ID Care and providing $6.1 million to reach another 54,000 Australians – to protect them from cyber scams. On that note, I want to introduce and welcome to God’s country, Karen Andrews the Minister for Home Affairs.
KAREN ANDREWS: Thank you Andrew. An important message to all Australians, is that they need to be very aware of their cybersecurity. Everyone is very comfortable when they leave the house, locking their front doors behind them – we need Australians to effectively do the same thing with their cybersecurity.
Everyone around Australia has access to some sort of electronic device – that means there is the ability for them to have their security compromised, but also to be subject to scams. We’ve just come out of Scams Awareness Week; raising awareness about cybersecurity and scams. Every single person in Australia has either been directly affected by a scam, or they know someone who has. It is so easy these days to get a text message; to get a phone call; to get an email with links that you can click on. The advice is clear – don’t click on any of those links; don’t respond to the calls; or the messages; because you may fall victim to a scam.
The Morrison Government has invested $1.67 billion in funding for our cybersecurity strategy, so we can not only raise awareness but we can deal with cybersecurity issues for individuals, for businesses and of course across government. We have funded IDCARE for $6 million in order to support people who have been subjected to a scam, so they can do all they can to assist with making sure that information is not sold on the dark web, and so that people’s identity is not stolen, and the criminals out there are profiting from that. It’s very easy once your systems or your devices are compromised, or you willingly give over information to these scammers, for you to have your identity stolen. That could see you lose tens of thousands, up to millions of dollars; but what IDCARE can do, is help and support you so that, if you are scammed, you will have the opportunity to put in place some things that will limit the damage that can be done to the loss of your identity.
We have heard already that people in the bush and in regional parts of Australia are in fact, more affected by scamming than those in our city areas. So it’s great that IDCARE is out there on the road in their ‘Scambulance’ making sure they are reaching out to people. People can come along, they can hear about what they need to do to upgrade security on their iPads or on their phones – any of their electronic devices. But for those people who have been scammed, IDCARE will be able to assist you, to make sure that there’s limits as to how far your identity can be compromised. This is a great initiative, very supportive of this from the Federal Government’s point of view; and for all Australians, please – be cyber aware; take cyber security seriously; and the Morrison Government will back you the entire way. Thank you.
QUESTION: So how many of these Scamulances do you have and where are you heading?
DAVID LACEY: There are four teams, four different Scamulances. We’ve identified 50 regional and remote areas that are on the priority list for us. Those regions will get more than one particular event, and they’ll be a mixture of events. So, we spent the last two weeks in the Northern Territory and Queensland testing their trucks and their wearability with some mixed reviews. But look, we had an event with children aged five to eleven. We ran an event with 90 older Australians. We ran events for small business, so unfortunately, the work we have to do is not small. It’s large because it’s impacting many, many different Australians.
QUESTION: How will it work? Do people bring their devices even if they’ve got concerns, or how can they do that?
DAVID LACEY: Yeah, they can bring their own device if they’ve got concerns about its own security or just want to learn how to be secure with it. The team can help them out there and then. Small businesses can come along and get a free cyber health check, and tap into the team on the Sunshine Coast here to talk through the results to improve their security. A lot of what we see with small business doesn’t need a lot of money. It’s just a few tweaks on things they’ve already got to make them a lot more secure, so we want to really drive that. For people that may have been victimised with scams or cybercrimes, the broader ID care effort is there to support them as well.
QUESTION: Why are people in remote locations targeted by scammers more?
DAVID LACEY: It’s not a matter of people in remote and regional areas being targeted more. One thing became very clear in our travels most recently is that the scam text messages you’re receiving and I’m receiving, and the scam phone calls we’re all receiving, is going into the 26 million. It’s just that we find that people that are in more isolated communities tend to be impacted and victimised more. So the scammers aren’t necessarily saying I’m going to target this location, it’s more mass, but we’re finding the people that are in the bush, particularly in smaller communities… as an example, if it’s an investment fraud, they’re going to talk to their mates about how good the investment it is whilst they are being scammed, then all of a sudden it is a cluster of victims. So this is about looking after each other and also teaching people how to look after each other and what they need to look out for.