The Australian Cyber Security Center (ACSC), which is Australia’s major electronic intelligence agency, had earlier warned about “advanced persistent threat actors” (APT). It is said that these ATP groups of hackers are usually associated with foreign nationals.
In a recent press conference, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison sought cooperation from Five Eyes (includes Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the U.S.A.), its intelligence partners. He also hinted at Beijing being behind the said cyber-attack. He added, “Australian organizations are currently being targeted by a sophisticated state-based cyber actor.”
The cyber-attack targeted basic sectors such as essential services, educational institutions, political organizations, operators of critical infrastructure, and other industries.
According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), “a significant number of (cyber) attacks have not yet… and may never be publicly reported.”
ABC reported that some former Australian Officials felt that these cyber-attacks might have occurred because of the ban of Huawei. Another expert told ABC that, cyber-attacks on the Australian government are being targeted by China’s premier intelligence agency in retaliation for banning Huawei from the 5G network.
Some speculate that the attack may have targeted COVID-19 data. Chinese Foreign Spokesperson Zhao Lijian has denied all allegations.
In a meeting with China’s top diplomat to the United States, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised questions about “China’s use of coercion” on Australia.
There is no clear proof that the attack was does by China other than the fact that a similar technique was used in the US Parliament cyber-attack of 2019.
By Ridha Dhawan
Member, REPORTER’S COMMITTEE