China probed in parliament hack attack

Clay Curtis
February 10, 2019

"There is no evidence that any data has been accessed or taken at this time, however this will remain subject to ongoing investigation", it said.

The Australian Signals Directorate is now taking steps to secure the parliament's computer network.

The Australian Federal Parliament's computer network has been hacked.

Past year the Notifiable Data Breach Scheme was introduced in Australia, requiring most organisations with a turnover above $3 million to report any breaches likely to result in serious harm to the individuals affected and Australia's privacy watchdog.

Chinese hackers could be behind a breach of the federal parliamentary computing network which is being investigated by Australia's top cybersecurity agency.

They said that there was "no evidence that this is an attempt to influence the outcome of parliamentary processes or to disrupt or influence electoral or political processes", adding that it would "take time" for the perpetrators to be identified.

House of representatives speaker Tony Smith and senate president Scott Ryan jointly released a statement confirming the attack and that the incident is under investigation.

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While sources said it was too early to say who was behind the attack, they said the fact that Parliament had significantly upgraded its cyber defences since an attack by Chinese intelligence agencies in 2011 suggested the latest hackers were highly skilled.

The incident has been compared to a robber breaking into a house, whereby authorities know the front door has been broken but are yet to find out if anything else has been taken, or if there is another way to break in.

However, Labor politicians and staff have said access to their emails had been intermittent.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says the breach - which he was confident was being handled properly - is a "wake up call".

The attack does not affect the computer systems of government ministers and their staff, according to reports.

Alvin Rodrigues, security strategist, APAC and Sam Ghebranious, senior regional director, ANZ, Forcepoint, said: "Reports emerging today that the Australian Parliament's computer network has been hacked are deeply concerning - and yet not surprising. If I'm prime minister I'm going to invest a lot more in the cyber security of our small and medium sized enterprises".

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