As new details of last year’s cyber-attack on Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology come to light, the 2016 Australian Cyber Security Centre Threat report warns that Australia is a significant target for cyber espionage. The breach was associated with hackers allegedly from China, one of Australia’s key trading partners.
The infrastructure had been infected with Remote Access Tool (RAT) malware which is “popular with state-sponsored cyber adversaries.” The number of stolen documents is unknown and the malware is believed to have infected other government networks as well.
When questioned about China’s involvement in the attack, Australian Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security, Dan Tehan, said he wouldn’t “narrow it down to specific countries, and we do that deliberately, but what we have indicated is that cyber espionage is alive and well and that’s why we want to be transparent in this report about the incident.”
Specialists say chances of an immediate cyber terrorist attack are low. “Apart from demonstrating a savvy understanding of social media and exploiting the internet for propaganda purposes, terrorist cyber capabilities generally remain rudimentary and show few signs of improving significantly in the near future,” reads the report.
As threats to the country grow in complexity and density, organized crime groups make sure “ransomware, credential-harvesting malware and DDoS extortion continue as the predominant cybercrime threats in 2016.”
CERT Australia has detected 14,804 hacks on local businesses, while 418 included systems of national interest and critical infrastructure.
“The systems are fully operational and the Bureau continues to provide reliable, ongoing access to high quality weather, climate, water and oceans information,” the agency announced today.