Home > Breaking News > BREAKING NEWS:Australia Cyber Attacked, As Optus & TPG Cuddle Up To Chinese Government Linked Companies

BREAKING NEWS:Australia Cyber Attacked, As Optus & TPG Cuddle Up To Chinese Government Linked Companies

China is believed to be behind a major cyber-attack on Australia as Optus & TPG continue to install Chinese equipment in Australian businesses & homes linked with the Communist Chinese Government.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed a large number of Australian government organisations and businesses are being targeted by a sophisticated state-based cyber hack with insiders telling ChannelNews that the prime suspect is China.

Government, education, health, and other areas are all caught up in the attack, which Mr Morrison says has been increasing in recent days.

Mr Morrison raised the attack with United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday night and also sought co-operation from Australia’s Five Eyes intelligence partners, the United States, Canada, New Zealand as well as the UK.

Others who were aware of the attack named China as a likely source. Government sources say the attack bore many similarities to a cyber attack on Parliament House’s computer system in February 2019, which security agencies attributed to China.

Australian Strategic Policy Institute executive director Peter Jennings told The Australian it was “very clear” that China was behind the cyber attack on Australia, and that Prime Minister Scott Morrison was calling Beijing out.

The PM has revealed early Friday that Australia is currently being hit by a major, state-backed cyber attack which is targeting all levels of government, political parties and private businesses.

“I think you’ve got to sort of go through a check list of factors, which is not just the capability issues that Morrison talks about but also the interest and intent,” Mr Jennings said in the wake of the PM’s press conference announcing the attack.

“The Russians could do it. The North Koreans could do it, but neither of them have an interest on the scale of this. They have no interest in state and territory government or universities,”

“So that leads me to conclude that the only country that has got the interest to go as broad and as deep as this and the only country with the sophistication and the size of the intelligence establishment to do it, is China. That’s very clear.

“We know it is a sophisticated state-based cyber actor because of the scale and nature of the targeting and the trade craft used.” Mr Morrison said in a snap press conference at Parliament House.

Several organisations in Australia are exposed because they were supplied with Chinese made products by both Optus and TPG whose network partners are Optus who use the services of the Chinese Government owned organisation China Telecom, who have access to the Optus network.

TPG is installing thousands of Chinese Huawei routers in businesses buying their Fibre 400 package. The Chinese owned Company is banned by the Australian Government from supplying network gear because they are seen as a security risk.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre and other parts of the government are working to thwart the hacking. The Prime Minister broke the news speaking alongside Defence Minister Linda Reynolds.

Reynolds is calling on all Australian businesses to update their protective software and secure their internet access as a major cyberattack targets Australian businesses.

All levels of government, health services and businesses are currently being targeted by a state-based cyber actor.

“Firstly, patch your internet facing devices promptly, ensuring that any web or email servers are fully updated with the latest software,” she said in Canberra.

China High Risk

Talking to News Corp, Clive Hamilton, public ethics professor at Charles Sturt University and the author of Silent Invasion, the timing of the attack is “significant”, and are designed to send a clear message to Australia.

“It could well be that these cyber attacks are part of Beijing’s campaign to punish Australia for its insubordination inn calling for an inquiry into COVID-19”, Hamilton said.

“I think the message is that we should be worried,” says Hamilton.

China is sending us a message that “We’re big, you are small, and we have the capacity to punish you”, he said.

Prime Minister Morrison said the “malicious” cyber attacks on Australia’s major government, industry and political organisations have been increasing in frequency in recent months.

“Australia doesn’t engage lightly in public attributions and when and if we choose to do so is always done in the context of what we believe to be in our strategic national interests.

“What I can confirm is there are not a large number of state-based actors that can engage in this type of activity and it is clear, based on the advice that we have received, that this has been done by a state-based actor, with very significant capabilities.”

Mr Morrison said there were no large personal data breaches as a result of the ongoing attacks.

Telstra Respond

Telstra boss Andy Penn says his telco is on ‘heightened alert’ following the government’s announcement this morning.

“Our own monitoring confirms what the Prime Minister has said today. We have seen a significant increase in cyber-attack activity in recent weeks and we are on heightened alert for ourselves and for our customers and we are actively managing the risk,” Penn said.

“Cyber security is a large and growing area of risk for the security of the nation, and COVID-19 has increased that risk with so many of people working and studying from home, away from traditional security measures.“The Australian government deserves real credit for the leadership it is showing on cyber security – it is critical for our national security and economic growth. We continue to work closely with the relevant security agencies and our global partners to monitor and understand these threats to better protect our own data and networks, and those of our customers.

“I am also working with the government as the chair of the Industry Advisory Panel on its 2020 Cyber Security Strategy, and we will be releasing our report in the coming weeks.”

 

More to follow.

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