Australia sees China as main suspect in state-based cyberattacks, says report

WION Web Team
Canberra, Australia Published: Jun 19, 2020, 04:19 PM(IST)

Scott Morrison Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The comments came after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a "sophisticated state-based actor" had spent months trying to hack all levels of the government, political bodies, essential service providers and operators of critical infrastructure.

Australia views China as the chief suspect in a spate of cyber-attacks of increasing frequency in recent months, sources told Reuters on Friday.

The suggestion has been swiftly dismissed by Beijing.

The comments came after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a "sophisticated state-based actor" had spent months trying to hack all levels of the government, political bodies, essential service providers and operators of critical infrastructure.

He, however, declined to say who Australia believed was responsible.

Sources briefed on the matter said Australia believed China is responsible, however.

A US security ally, Australia strained ties with its largest trading partner, China, by pushing for an international inquiry into the source and spread of the coronavirus that first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

Also read | Australian PM says country under cyber attacks by 'state-based actor'

China recently imposed dumping tariffs on Australian barley, suspended some imports of beef and warned its students and tourists against travel to the country, citing racism accusations. Two-way trade stood at A$235 billion ($162 billion) last year.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on Friday denied Beijing was involved and said China "firmly opposed all forms of cyber attacks."

Australian intelligence has flagged similarities between the recent attacks and a cyber attack on parliament and the three largest political parties in March 2019. Last year, Reuters reported that Australia had quietly concluded China was responsible for that cyber-attack.

Australia has, however, never publicly identified the source of that attack, and China denied it was responsible.

Morrison said he spoke about the issue with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday, while other allies have also received briefings.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said advice showed no large-scale personal breaches of data resulting from the attack, but urged users to fully update web or email servers with the latest software and use multi-factor authentication.

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