By David E. Hubler
Contributor, In Homeland Security
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced last Friday that a major cyberattack by a “sophisticated state-based actor” has hit the nation, according to the Voice of America.
Get started on your Homeland Security degree at American Military University.
Morrison said the cyberattacks were widespread, covering “all levels of government” as well as essential services and businesses, the BBC reported.
Morrison said so far, there have been no large-scale breaches of personal or official data. But businesses and government agencies are being urged to strengthen their online defenses.
Technical advice on how to “detect and mitigate” threats is also being provided.
Australian Prime Minister: ‘This Is the Action of a State-Based Actor with Significant Capabilities’
Morrison declined to say who might be behind the attack, although he was asked if deteriorating relations with China might be the cause of the attack.
“What I can confirm with confidence,” the Prime Minister replied, “based on the advice, the technical advice that we have received, is that this is the action of a state-based actor with significant capabilities, and there aren’t too many state-based actors who have those capabilities,” he said. “This is part of the new world we live in. Regrettably, this is not peculiar.”
Australia’s Parliament was hit last year by a “malicious intrusion” of its computer networks, VOA noted and added: “Reports said that Australian intelligence agencies suspected China’s Ministry of State Security. The government in Canberra refused to comment.”
Morrison said officials had identified the attack as a state hack “because of the scale and nature of the targeting and the trade craft used.”
Ties Are Strained due to Chinese Interference in Australia’s Domestic Affairs
Australia’s relationship with China, its biggest trading partner, is lucrative but complex. Ties have been strained by allegations of Chinese interference in Australia’s domestic affairs. Canberra’s vocal push for a global investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, which first emerged in Wuhan, China, last December infuriated Beijing, VOA noted.
The BBC cited several other recent cyberattacks against Australia, including:
- Last year, the Australian National University said it had been hacked by a sophisticated operation which had accessed staff and student details.
- Also in 2019, Australia’s main political parties and parliament were hit by a “malicious intrusion” earlier in 2019, also attributed to a “sophisticated state actor.”
Online Degrees & Certificates In Cybersecurity
American Military University's online cybersecurity programs integrate multiple disciplines to ensure you gain the critical skills and management practices needed to effectively lead cybersecurity missions – from government or private industry. Learn from the leader. American Military University is part of American Public University System, which has been designated by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.