A policy vacuum has exposed Australian businesses and government departments to a tsunami of cyber crime.
Ransomware attacks have caused global losses totalling more than $1.3 trillion and Australia is not immune.
Logistics company Toll Holdings has twice been targeted while Nine Entertainment was brought to its knees by an attack that saw the company struggle to televise nightly bulletins or produce newspapers.
Australian health and aged care providers have also been hit while operations at JBS Foods meat processing plans were brought to a standstill.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has released a report warning the problem will only get worse unless a concerted and strategic effort is made to thwart the attacks.
Report authors Rachael Falk and Anne-Louise Brown say the Australian government has a key role to play but tackling ransomware is a shared responsibility.
The pair warn not only are Australian organisations viewed as lucrative targets, they are also seen as soft targets because of their poor defences against cyber threats.
They say the number of attacks will continue to grow unless urgent action is taken.
Their report calls for more transparency, greater public awareness and stronger alert systems.
Labor MP Tim Watts has seized on the report to renew calls for a national ransomware strategy and mandatory notification scheme.
He accused the Morrison government of missing multiple opportunities to combat the cyber threat.
“Instead it’s simply played the blame game, telling businesses it’s up to them to protect themselves against increasingly sophisticated and well-resourced cyber criminals,” Mr Watts said.
“Australian businesses and workers need a government that’s on their side in the fight against ransomware.”