Australia says foreign govt likely to blame for cyber attack, Latest World News - The New Paper

Australia says foreign govt likely to blame for cyber attack

This article is more than 12 months old

SYDNEY A cyber attack on Australian lawmakers that breached the networks of major political parties was probably carried out by a foreign government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday. He did not name any suspects.

As Australia heads for an election due by May, lawmakers were this month told to urgently change their passwords after the cyber intelligence agency detected an attack on the Parliament's computer network.

The hackers breached the networks of major political parties, Mr Morrison said, as he issued an initial assessment by investigators.

"Our cyber experts believe that a sophisticated state actor is responsible for this malicious activity," he told Parliament. "We also became aware that the networks of some political parties, Liberal, Labor and National have also been affected."

He said there was no evidence of election interference.

Investors are still securing local networks, said Mr Alastair MacGibbon, head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

"Our political institutions represent high-value targets,"he told reporters.

"We will continue to work with our friends and colleagues, both here and overseas, to work out who is behind it and hopefully their intent."

Analysts have said China, Russia and Iran were the most likely culprits.

"When you consider motivation, you would have to say that China is the leading suspect, while you wouldn't rule out Russia either," said Mr Fergus Hanson, head of the International Cyber Policy Centre at think-tank the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

"It is the honey pot of juicy political gossip that has been hoovered up. E-mails showing everything from the dirty laundry of internal fights through to who supported a policy could be on display."

Tensions between Canberra and Beijing rose this month after Australia rescinded the visa of a prominent Chinese businessman, just months after barring Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies from supplying equipment to its 5G broadband network. - REUTERS