Elite cyber spies are striking back against foreign criminals using coronavirus-themed tricks to rip off unsuspecting Australians.
The Australian Signals Directorate is leading an attack against offshore crooks using SMS phishing campaigns to dupe people into downloading malicious software onto their mobile phones.
ASD officers have used offensive cyber capabilities to smash overseas networks and disrupt their operations.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the operation had protected hundreds of Australians and thousands more foreigners.
"ASD has successfully disrupted the business model of key foreign cybercrime syndicates targeting Australians and exposing potential victims to significant financial losses," Senator Reynolds said.
The operation has been backed by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Australian Federal Police, whose officers have worked alongside international law enforcement agencies.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said developers of high-end hacking tools were selling their wicked wares on the dark web, making them more easily accessible to unsophisticated criminals.
"We can't sit by while a marketplace exists for sophisticated cybercrime tools to be used against Australians," he said.
Senator Reynolds will launch a new national cyber security campaign in Canberra on Wednesday during a meeting with local businesses.
Australian Associated Press