Last week’s cyber attack on Australia’s parliamentary networks was the work of a foreign government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed.
“Our cyber experts believe that a sophisticated state actor is responsible for this malicious activity,” the Prime Minister told the House of Representatives at Parliament House yesterday.
He did not name the foreign power, but the Sydney Morning Herald is today reporting China is responsible for the attack, likely as retaliation for banning Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE from supplying any part of Australia’s 5G network.
Morrison said the attack which was identified by the Australian Cyber Security Centre had affected the networks of the Liberal, Labor and National parties, but was adamant the intrusion had not affected Australia’s electoral systems.
“We have put in place a number of measures to ensure the integrity of our electoral systems,” the Prime Minister said.
“I have instructed the Australian Cyber Security Centre to be ready to provide any political party or electoral body in Australia with immediate support, including making their technical experts available.”
“The methods used by malicious actors are constantly evolving, and this incident just reinforces yet again the importance of cybersecurity as a fundamental part of everyone's business.
“The Australian government will continue to take a proactive and coordinated approach to protecting Australia's sovereignty, economy and national security.”
Speaking on radio 3AW this morning, Morrison refused to be drawn on which which government was behind the attack.
When asked by radio journalist Neil Mitchell if he had a "fair idea who's responsible" but just didn't want say, the Prime Minister said he wasn't "going to get into a discussion on security matters", and said the decision to make the attacker known would be made in consultation with the National Security Committe of Cabinet.
ACS President Yohan Ramasundara called on the government to name and shame the attacker.
“We should be very public about who hacked us and why,” he said.
“But beyond that, we should be working with international partners to formulate a real response, with real teeth, to deter these kinds of actions in the future.
“This should not be the new normal.
“There needs to be real and serious consequences for actors who perpetrate these acts of aggression.”
Opposition leader Bill Shorten said cyber security “affects every Australian in every way, nearly every day” and we need to guard against attacks.
“We need every Australian equipped to preserve and protect our institutions, our freedoms and our values,” he said.
“It means that we need to train up more Australians in our universities, TAFEs, research centres and workplaces to fill national skill shortages in cybersecurity.”