Australia’s government and institutions are hit in a state sponsored cyber attacking incident says PM Scott Morrison. Mr. Morrison said the cyber hacking attempts were holistic in nature and covered “all levels of government” as well as essential services sectors and businesses. However, the he declined to specifically provide the name of a state actor while confirming that major personal data has been stolen by the perpetrators. He added that the activity has been growing and number of attacks are increasing over the months.
He said Australian cyber security officials have detected the involvement of state actors in the activity “because of the scale and nature of the targeting and the trade craft used”. When inquired whether that country had been traced, the Premier said he would not make “any public attribution”.
“There are not a large number of state-based actors that can engage in this type of activity,” he told reporters on Friday. He reiterated that similar “malicious” activity has been spotted in jurisdictions globally and is not confined to Australia. Cyber Intelligence authorities have long blamed various hacks in the continent nation to Chinese government. Other countries being accused of state-sponsored hacking include Iran, North Korea and Russia.
“There’s always simmering tensions between Russia and China so really it comes down to those being the key actors they [Australia] would be referring to,” expert Joshua Kennedy-White told the BBC.
Despite accusing a “sophisticated state actor”, Mr. Morrison refused to mention a specific name. Relations between Australia and China have been soared in recent years but have significantly worsened after the former backed the US claims and called for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 in China where the virus was first found last year. Chinese state has since slapped Australia with new tariffs, halted beef imports and warned its citizenry of risks when travelling to Australia for tourism, study and business following anti-Chinese and racist incidents in the country.
Australia has also stepped up its efforts to pressurize the Asians and last week, the Prime Minister stated he would not give in to Coercion from Beijing. While it is hard to hold China responsible and accountable for the attacks, the Australian leadership has decided to throw a shade at its powerful trading partner by building a silent rhetoric against it.
On Friday, Mr. Morrison while talking to business leaders urged them to improve health infrastructure and service providers to beef up their technical defenses.
Cyber defense agencies had thwarted “many” hacking attempts but protection required “constant persistence and application”.
“We raised this issue today not to raise concerns in the public’s mind, but to raise awareness in the public’s mind,” Mr Morrison said.
“We know what is going on. We are on it, but it is a day-to-day task.”