Australia says foreign government behind cyberattack on lawmakers

Author: 
Reuters
ID: 
1550458224406349700
Mon, 2019-02-18 02:29

SYDNEY: A cyberattack on Australian lawmakers that breached the
networks of major political parties was probably carried out by a
foreign country, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday,
without naming any suspects.
As Australia heads for an election due by May, lawmakers were told
this month told to urgently change their passwords after the cyber
intelligence agency detected an attack on the national
parliament’s computer network.
The hackers breached the networks of Australia’s major political
parties, Morrison said, as he issued an initial assessment by
investigators.
“Our cyber experts believe that a sophisticated state actor is
responsible for this malicious activity,” he told parliament.
“We also became aware that the networks of some political
parties, Liberal, Labor and Nationals have also been
affected.”
Morrison did not reveal what information was accessed, but he said
there was no evidence of election interference.
Australians will return to the polls by May.
Morrison did not name any suspects, but analysts have said China,
Russia and Iran were the most likely culprits.
“When you consider motivation, you would have to say that China
is the leading suspect, while you wouldn’t rule out Russia
either,” said Fergus Hanson, head of the International Cyber
Policy Center at think-tank the Australian Strategic Policy
Institute.
“It is the honey-pot of juicy political gossip that has been
hoovered up. Emails showing everything from the dirty laundry of
internal fights through to who supported a policy could be on
display.”
Ties with China have deteriorated since 2017, after Canberra
accused Beijing of meddling in its domestic affairs. Both countries
have since sought to mend relations, but Australia remains wary of
China.
Tension rose this month after Australia rescinded the visa of a
prominent Chinese businessman, just months after barring Chinese
telecoms giant Huawei Technologies from supplying equipment to its
5G broadband network.
Officers of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency covertly
monitored computers of US Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton’s
2016 presidential campaign and campaign committees, and stole large
amounts of data, US investigators have concluded.

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Australia says foreign government behind cyberattack on lawmakers