Australia under attack every 10 minutes

The distinction between Australia being at "peace and war" is now blurred with multiple State-supported cyber hackers targeting the nation's critical infrastructure at unprecedented levels, the Federal Government has warned.

Attacks were now being reported every 10 minutes in this country, specifically targeting our critical infrastructures and supply chains including in energy, government, defence, education, health and resources as well as ordinary citizens.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds revealed the attack frequency had actually increased since June when Prime Minister Scott Morrison made headlines declaring the nation's sovereignty as under threat by another nation through a sophisticated cyber-based State actor.

"We now face an environment where cyber-enabled activity has the potential to drive disinformation and also directly support interference in our economy, interference in our political system and also what we see as critical infrastructure but more widely across businesses and organisations in our economy," Senator Reynolds said yesterday post a high-level briefing with division chiefs from the Australian Cyber Security Centre, Defence, Home Affairs Department and the Australian Federal Police.

"This type of activity really does blur what we understand to be peace and war and it is a grey zone in between."

 

 

The increase in attacks was in the level of technical sophistication as well as the quantity of attempted hacks and some of them have been successful and came from "more than one" State-based actor.

At the highest national security level, there has been four incidents involving "the exfiltration or deletion/damage of key sensitive data or intellectual property" with another seven at the Federal Government and national infrastructure or supply chain level.

 

 

Australian Cyber Security Centre officers working on the colour-coded national security cyber threat chart. Pictures: ACSC
Australian Cyber Security Centre officers working on the colour-coded national security cyber threat chart. Pictures: ACSC

State Governments, academia and large essential corporations had also suffered both those numbers of deletion, damage and disruption as well as several thousand low level malicious attacks or "reconnaissance scanning".

Now, like then, Senator Reynolds declined to name names but industry evidence points to China, Russia and Iran as the world's leading State-based actors targeting the country with allies Israel and the US the only others with the sophisticated technical capacity.

 

Warren Brown’s “COVID-20” cartoon for News Corp Australia in June amid the hacking and COVID-19 controversies involving China.
Warren Brown’s “COVID-20” cartoon for News Corp Australia in June amid the hacking and COVID-19 controversies involving China.

 

But she appealed to all Australian companies to upgrade their own cyber security and engage with the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) to expose the true extent of the attacks in the current "heightened threat environment".

She said she had specifically written to Defence industry to remind them of their responsibilities in protecting secrets and supply chains.

 

 

She said the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) were now identifying daily the "capabilities, intentions and actions of potential adversaries that reside outside of Australia" while the ACSC used the intelligence to enhance national defences and secrets of critical industries but also expose the cyber tricks being used against ordinary families to steal their money.

"Strengthening Australia's cyber security capabilities and resilience has been, and continues to be, a top national security priority. The ASD is also using its offensive cyber capabilities to strike back against foreign cybercriminals and disrupt malicious cyber activities targeting Australians."

 

The Australian Cyber Security Centre report reveals where cyber crime is being reported by jurisdiction although they admit the true figures could be much higher. Picture: Supplied
The Australian Cyber Security Centre report reveals where cyber crime is being reported by jurisdiction although they admit the true figures could be much higher. Picture: Supplied

 

The latest government warning comes as the ACSC, AFP and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission issued a new annual report detailing the threats by State-based actors and cyber criminals.

It estimated on the criminal side, the nation lost $29 billion a year to company and institution cyber fails with Queensland having the most cyber reports with 14,630 incidents between July last year and June this year, followed by Victoria (14,061), NSW (12,689), WA (5386), South Australia (3559), the ACT (886), Tasmania (547) and Northern Territory with 463.

Originally published as Australia under attack every 10 minutes


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