On February 8, the Australian government announced its computer network was hit by a major cyberattack. Following investigations by the country’s cyber experts, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Monday that the government fell victim to a nation-state cyberattack, writes The Guardian.
Duncan Lewis, the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, offered no details about the impact of the attack or what was compromised. As a preventative measure, passwords have been reset.
“The electoral machinery which we have in this country, that’s the Australian Electoral Commission and the various state electoral commissions that work with the federal system — there is no evidence that they have been compromised,” Lewis said in front of Senate committee.
Considering the country will soon hold state and federal elections, the attackers may have attempted to steal information, disrupt parliamentary activity or manipulate the election outcome. Morrison, however, denied electoral interference.
“Our cyber experts believe that a sophisticated state actor is responsible for this malicious activity,” Morrison said. “Let me be clear, though — there is no evidence of any electoral interference. We have put in place a number of measures to ensure the integrity of our electoral system.”
His claim is backed by a joint statement from presiding officers Scott Ryan and Tony Smith who said “we have no evidence that this is an attempt to influence the outcome of parliamentary processes or to disrupt or influence electoral or political processes.”
The malicious activity also targeted the Liberal Party, the Nationals and the Labor Party. Morrison did not name the state actor responsible for the attack, but China is one of the countries investigated, according to agencies looking into the malicious intrusion, according to another story by The Guardian.
This is not the first time Australia’s government or political parties have been targeted by cyberattacks, as similar incidents occurred in 2011, when the email network was hacked. And, the Australian Cyber Security Agency has blamed a foreign power for a 2015 hack of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology network., Although China was named as one of the possible nations behind the attacks, there’s no strong evidence to support these accusations.