Australian intelligence reportedly concluded that China was responsible for a major hack on Australia's parliament in the lead up to its most recent elections
- Australian intelligence concluded that China was behind a massive cyberattack on its parliament, Reuters reported, citing a classified report by the government cyber warfare agency Australian Signals Directorate.
- The hack on Australia's parliament, which also impacted three of Australia's major political parties including Liberal, Labour, and National, was revealed earlier this year. Sources said it was unclear when the attack began or how long it went on for.
- Sources told Reuters the report suggested keeping the findings a secret so that Canberra could maintain trade relations with Beijing.
- For more stories go to www.businessinsider.co.za.
Australian intelligence concluded that China was behind a major cyberattack on its parliament and major political parties in the lead up to the most recent elections, Reuters reported on Monday local time, citing five people with direct knowledge of the matter.
Reuters cited a classified report by the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), the government agency responsible for cyber warfare, which is said to have determined in March that China's Ministry of State Security was behind the hacks.
Three of Australia's major political parties, including the Liberal, Labor, and National parties, were also impacted by the breach of the federal parliament's computer systems revealed earlier this year.
Reuters said it did not review the classified report, which included comment from the Department of Foreign Affairs. The report is said to have suggested keeping the findings a secret so that Canberra could maintain trade relations with Beijing.
Two sources told Reuters that independent members of parliament and other political parties were not impacted by the hack. They added that it was unclear when the attack began or how long it went on for.
Australia's most recent national elections took place on May 18 and Scott Morrison, Australia's conservative prime minister, pulled off a shocking win.
China's Foreign Ministry denied involvement in the cyberattack and told Reuters that the report is "just creating rumours and smearing others."
"When investigating and determining the nature of online incidents there must be full proof of the facts, otherwise it's just creating rumours and smearing others, pinning labels on people indiscriminately. We would like to stress that China is also a victim of internet attacks," the ministry said in a statement.
Morrison has not directly placed blame on China but suggested in February that a "sophisticated state actor" was behind the security breach. He did not explain how security detected the attack or what it did to combat the threat.
Senior intelligence sources told the Sydney Morning Herald at the time that the advanced malware used in the attack was only available to a small portion of countries, many of whom are friendly to Australia. The sources told SMH that left China and Russia as potential suspects.
China in February said suggestions that it was behind the attack were "baseless" and "irresponsible."
"Irresponsible reports, accusations, pressurising and sanctions will only heighten tensions and confrontation in cyberspace and poison the atmosphere for cooperation," said China foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.
China and Australia have also clashed on other issues, including election interference and major telecommunications provider Huawei, which is banned from supplying its technology to its 5g network over national security concerns.
China is Australia's largest trade partner, according to Reuters, and purchases more than 1/3 of the country's total exports.
Receive a daily email with all our latest news: click here.
Also from Business Insider South Africa:
- These 'kamikaze' drones are believed to have taken out 5% of world oil production in an attack on Saudi Arabia. Here's what we know about them.
- South Africa’s rich are paying R10.6 million for EU citizenship via Malta
- 42 secrets you never knew about the Titanic and the people aboard it
- It’s not just you, it really is getting harder to park at South African shopping centres – here’s why
- Take a look inside the most expensive hotel room in the world, a 2-story sky villa designed by Damien Hirst that runs R1.4 million per night and was just named one of the 'world's greatest places'
- 11 ways Prince William and Prince Harry have kept Princess Diana's memory alive