TIM DAVIES: Welcome back to Weekend Today. Great to have you company this morning. It is coming up to 8:00 now and Australians are this morning being warned recent cyber attacks on major companies like Optus and Medibank could be just the start of things. Predicting there will be a growing wave of cyber crime which will hold more companies to ransom and spread concerns among customers. Let's bring in today's talkers for you, shadow finance minister Jane Hume and nine presenter Wendy Kingston. Ladies, good morning to you. Jane, first, this is not the news that we want to be waking up to this morning, is it?
JANE HUME: No, it's not. And particularly for those 9.7 million Medibank customers, some of whom have already had their data leaked out onto the dark web. This is very sad news indeed. It's most important for people that are out there that have been affected by this to make sure that if they are approached by anybody that is trying to extort them or demand a ransom for individual for their individual data, that they contact the Australian Cyber Security Centre immediately And for anybody else that's concerned about identity theft, please watch your bank accounts like a hawk. That's the first indicator that something is going wrong, but unfortunately it is going to be a sign of our times. There are things that governments can do. There's a new law called the Magnitsky Law that allows governments to put sanctions on individuals. And this is in a different country for crimes or corruption or human rights abuses. This is a prime candidate, this organisation in Russia that has been identified by the AFP that has committed this crime. So there are things that governments can do, but unfortunately to some extent it's shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.
TIM DAVIES: Oh, the ramifications of this are going to be lingering for some time. I mean, Wendy, it is one thing to have your personal information hacked and taken now, though, how concerning is it that we are seeing it leaked online? It's going public?
WENDY KINGSTON: Yeah, absolutely. And look, the security experts, as we're reading this morning, have come out to say that the hackers out there are only scaling up these attacks. So, look, as customers, it's very concerning And as Jane mentioned, what do we are reacting. We can't exactly get on the front foot. I've been chatting to people this week. They're saying, oh, look, you know, I've realised that this has been compromised. I'm changing my medi, my Medicare number, I'm looking at my licence and that's the problem. We have no idea how much is being leaked. We know for sure because a ransom has been paid. We don't know for sure, but I guess you could guess that more information will come out. So, yes, absolutely. It's incredibly concerning and we just don't know how to react.
TIM DAVIES: Know exactly. Jane, you mentioned there that sanction. How can the government hold these hackers accountable? I mean, let's be honest, these hackers are probably sitting back in Russia thinking, you can't touch me. What are you going to do about it?
JANE HUME: Well, they do operate in the cover of darkness. The fact that they've been named. This is a very unusual step by the AFP to name the hackers and just name that they're from Russia to now. I doubt that Russian authorities are leaping to assist Australia at the moment as we give Bush masters to the Ukraine However, the fact that they have been named does actually open up the opportunity to impose those financial sanctions, travel sanctions on individuals rather than as on a country as a whole. So that is one opportunity. There's also other things that we can do. There's some ransomware legislation that was actually introduced by the coalition has been reintroduced as a private member's bill. There's something that's something that the government could support today that would impose much tougher penalties. But the harder part, of course, is actually identifying the criminal, the criminals and imposing those sanctions and those penalties on them directly rather than just the companies that are that haven't done the right thing to enable this to happen.
TIM DAVIES: Yeah, correct. And as you say, they'll be interesting to see if Moscow does play along with Australian authorities on this one. Wendy, we haven't seen any new data released today. That's the first time in four days. What do you think the Australian Federal Police have perhaps given them a scare?
WENDY KINGSTON: Wouldn't it be nice if they had? But don't you fear? I mean, I'm not an expert, clearly, but don't you fear that perhaps now they're waiting the hackers to see their next move? And, you know, for all we know, it'll be twice the amount of data just to, you know, fire another volley back. I mean, we really don't know. And that's what I mean. We are completely powerless. Yes. Wouldn't it be great if they scared the hackers? As we hear from Jane they're under the cover of darkness, so I fear no.
TIM DAVIES: Yeah. Scary times ahead. And as I said, the ramifications of this hanging around for some time. Ladies, thank you both for your time today and your thoughts on both of those.