Australia’s government and institutions are being targeted by an ongoing sophisticated state-based cyber hack, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says.
Mr Morrison said the cyber attacks were widespread, covering “all levels of government” as well as essential service providers and businesses.
He declined to identify a specific state actor, adding no major personal data breaches had been made.
The activity has been increasing in frequency over many months, he said.
He said cyber experts had identified it as a state hack “because of the scale and nature of the targeting and the trade craft used”.
When asked whether that country had been identified, Mr Morrison said he would not make “any public attribution”.
“There are not a large number of state-based actors that can engage in this type of activity,” he told reporters on Friday.
He stressed that similar “malicious” activity had been seen in jurisdictions globally, making it not unique to Australia.
Last year, Australia’s main political parties and parliament were hit by a “malicious intrusion” on their computer networks carried out by a “sophisticated state actor”.
The Reuters news agency reported that Australian intelligence agencies had suspected China’s Ministry of State Security of carrying out the 2019 hack. Canberra declined to comment on that report.
Speaking on Friday, Mr Morrison urged businesses – particularly infrastructure and service providers – to improve their technical defences.
Cyber defence agencies had thwarted “many” hacking attempts but protection required “constant persistence and application”.
“We raised this issue today not to raise concerns in the public’s mind, but to raise awareness in the public’s mind,” Mr Morrison said.
“We know what is going on. We are on it, but it is a day-to-day task.”
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