Australian parliament hit by “state actor” hacking

"Malicious intrusion" on networks of parliament and main parties, warns Aussie PM

A cyber attack which hit Australia's main political parties and its parliament has been blamed on hackers from another country, according to a statement by the Australian Prime Minister.

The hack was uncovered during an investigation of a breach of Parliament House's computer servers earlier this month. In a statement to parliament, PM Scott Morrison said that the hack happened two weeks ago and was carried out by a "sophisticated state actor".

"Members will be aware that the Australian Cyber Security Centre recently identified a malicious infiltration into the Australian Parliament House computer network," Australian Nine News reported Morrison saying.

"During the course of this work, we also became aware that the networks of some political parties, Liberal, Labor and Nationals have also been affected."

Morrison did not name the country responsible for the attack and there was no evidence of any electoral interference.

The PM added that the Australian Cyber Security Centre would provide support to any political party or electoral body attacked by hackers.

"The methods used by malicious actors are constantly evolving and this incident just re-enforces yet again the importance of cyber security as a fundamental part of everyone's business," said Morrison.

Australia's chief cyber security adviser, Alistair MacGibbon, said that it was not known what data hackers had accessed.

"We know that this state actor has been interacting with those networks," he said in a statement to Australia's ABC channel.

"These are very early days and a decision was made, I believe rightly in terms of risk management, to go publicly with this issue before we knew the full extent." 

Andrew Tsonchev, director of technology at Darktrace Industrial, told IT Pro that from the breach of Australia's parliament and political parties to an attack on the EU's diplomatic cables, there is a worrying global trend emerging of geopolitically fuelled cyber-attacks.

"Nation states and cyber criminals are ramping up in sophistication to infiltrate and crawl around, what we consider to be the world's most secure networks. It looks like no system, even those belonging to government, are safe from cyber-attack," he said.

Paul Edon, senior director at Tripwire, also told IT Pro that this attack is the latest demonstration of how the threats against nation-states have evolved in the last few years.

"The value of the digital assets that a system holds influences the risk factor of that system, and given the national and international interests invested in a nation-states' parliamentary networks, these kind of attacks are likely to be attempted again," he said.

Featured Resources

Digital document processes in 2020: A spotlight on Western Europe

The shift from best practice to business necessity

Download now

Four security considerations for cloud migration

The good, the bad, and the ugly of cloud computing

Download now

VR leads the way in manufacturing

How VR is digitally transforming our world

Download now

Deeper than digital

Top-performing modern enterprises show why more perfect software is fundamental to success

Download now

Recommended

Microsoft spearheads industry-wide charter against AI cyber attacks
Security

Microsoft spearheads industry-wide charter against AI cyber attacks

23 Oct 2020
Weekly threat roundup: Chrome, Citrix and WordPress
Security

Weekly threat roundup: Chrome, Citrix and WordPress

23 Oct 2020
IT services giant Sopra Steria falls victim to Ryuk ransomware
Security

IT services giant Sopra Steria falls victim to Ryuk ransomware

23 Oct 2020
CMS platforms succumb to KashmirBlack botnet as businesses rush online
Security

CMS platforms succumb to KashmirBlack botnet as businesses rush online

22 Oct 2020

Most Popular

The top 12 password-cracking techniques used by hackers
Security

The top 12 password-cracking techniques used by hackers

5 Oct 2020
The enemy of security is complexity
Sponsored

The enemy of security is complexity

9 Oct 2020
IBM and SAP expand partnership to support software on hybrid cloud
Cloud

IBM and SAP expand partnership to support software on hybrid cloud

21 Oct 2020