Recent global ransomware attacks must act as a wake-up call for Australia as the digital economy grows, Justice Minister Michael Keenan says.

Speaking at an international conference on cybercrime, Mr Keenan says while the WanaCry incident in mid-May and the more recent Petya ransomware incident had not affected Australia greatly, they should serve as a warning.

Mr Keenan told the Gold Coast conference the internet-based economy contributed $79 billion to the Australian economy in 2014 and that total is forecast to grow to $139 billion annually by 2020.

He says the international cyber attacks provide a reminder to all internet users to be vigilant about protecting themselves.

"Unfortunately, we know that where there is profit to be made, criminals will seek to exploit any weakness to gain access to victims and extort funds," Mr Keenan said.

"Simply put, they are profiting from everyday Australians, and in the 21st century, cyberspace has become their new frontier."

Mr Keenan says Australia's computer emergency response team, or CERT, handled 11,260 cyber security incidents in the past year, including 439 incidents involving systems of national interest and critical infrastructure.

He says several overseas cybercriminal groups are specifically targeting Australia, and the challenge of identifying and prosecuting individuals behind attacks remains difficult.

A $16 million funding boost to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission had enabled 10 overseas cyber-criminals to be identified who have allegedly been involved in hundreds of cases of malicious activity across Australia, Mr Keenan said.

He added Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's announcement directing the Australian Signals Directorate to extend the use of its offensive cyber capabilities to "disrupt, degrade, deny and deter organised offshore cyber criminals" will undermine the online capabilities of terrorist organisations.


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