Cyber Attack on Lawmakers: Aussie Government Blames Foreign Government
A cyber-attack breached the network of some of the major political parties in Australia. Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia without naming anyone said that it might have been carried out by a foreign government. The PM in his address on Feb 18, said that as per the initial assessment reports that he got from investigators, the network of all major parties was hacked by attackers. While speaking in the parliament, he said ‘Our cyber experts believe that a sophisticated state actor is responsible for this malicious activity. We also became aware that the networks of some political parties, Liberal, Labor, and Nationals have also been affected’. Though he did not disclose any information on who the state actor was, he did say that he did not get any proof of any election interference. With the country heading for elections this May, all the lawmakers were told to change their passwords immediately. The country’s cyber intelligence agency identified the attack on the computer network of the Australian parliament.
The Australian Cyber Security Centre head of the online security department of the government Alastair MacGibbon said that the investors are still securing the local networks. He also told reporters in Canberra that ‘our political institutions represent high-value targets and 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.’
Though officially no names are being taken, analysts have narrowed down the suspects to be either Russia, China or Iran. Head of the International Cyber Policy Centre, Fergus Hanson said that ‘When you consider motivation, you would have to say China is the leading suspect, while you wouldn’t rule out Russia either.’ He further added that ‘It is the honey pot of juicy gossip that has been hoovered up. Emails showing everything from the dirty laundry of internal fights through to who supported a policy could be displayed’.
The reason for China being the primary suspect is the tension between Australia and China after the Australian government. It has accused Beijing of interfering in domestic affairs and has also canceled the Visa of a famous Chinese businessperson. The Australian government has banned Huawei Technologies from providing 5G network equipment which has further strained the ties between them. Though China has sought to make the relations cordial, Australia is circumspect.
Russia is a suspect after the Russian GRU intelligence stole large data from Hillary Clinton during her 2016 Presidential campaign.