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China Could Launch “Unprecedented Digital Onslaught”: Dutton

Defence Minister Paul Dutton warns that China has the capacity to launch “an unprecedented digital onslaught” on Australia.

At the opening of the Australian Signals Directorate’s new Canberra headquarters this morning, Dutton said that strength is the clearest way to combat any attacks.

“Australia is not an aggressor in cyberspace,” Dutton said. “But we are prepared to use it to deter aggression and to respond to serious cyber attacks.

“And we will continue to invest in Australia’s asymmetric cyber capabilities – especially offensive cyber. Capabilities to hold a potential adversary’s forces and infrastructure at risk from a greater distance.

“Capabilities which send a clear deterrent message to any adversary: That the cost they would incur in threatening our interests outweighs the benefits.”

“China’s hard power expansion has been matched by the growth of its cyber forces, to a point where our authorities assess that China is now capable of mounting an unprecedented digital onslaught.”

Dutton points out that, in the event of such an attack, “there would undoubtedly be injuries and deaths from a loss of essential services, pressure on systems, and panic.

”Some may think such a scenario could not be possible – that you would only read about it in a dystopian novel or see it unfold in a disaster movie. They are wrong.”

Dutton points out ““at present, at least 15 hacking groups are supporting Russia and 37 supporting Ukraine.”

“Patriotic and vigilante hacking groups have mobilised across digital borders, in ways which subvert traditional notions of national sovereignty and test international norms.”

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