Australia Is Being Cyberattacked by State Actor, Prime Minister Says

Gene Naumovsky

Has the pandemic left the nation vulnerable to cyber assault?

Australia’s prime minister reported that the nation’s businesses and government agencies are under the threat of a state actor behind a mass cyberattack, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Now, many are worried that the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on the country are leaving it exposed to cyberattacks. Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that government agencies, political organizations, education and health-care providers, infrastructure operators, and others are all targets. Mr. Morrison didn’t accuse any country during his Friday announcement, but stated that only a few could have the tech resources to pull off such a charge.

He said, “We know it is a sophisticated state-based cyber actor because of the scale and nature of the targeting and the tradecraft used.” The attacks have grown in numbers over the last few months. Announcing plans for a revised cybersecurity system, Mr. Morrison said that so far there have been no large personal-data breaches.

Chief executive and founder of Sydney-based Gridware Cybersecurity, Ahmed Khanji said, “There’s been a huge increase in the number of Australian businesses notifying their insurers that they’ve been the victim of a cyberattack. We’ve been doing all-nighters at least once or twice a week.”

Some experts suspect China as the culprit, as the nation holds the means necessary to perform the assault, as well as an infamous track record. Senior analyst in cybersecurity at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Tom Uren said, “The prime minister talked about it going on for months, increasing in scale, and affecting so many industries. Those are all groups that the Chinese have hacked in the past, and for all of those to be ongoing at the same time means it’s a country with a large capability.”

China and Australia have clashed since the pandemic, when Australian officials encouraged a global investigation into the origin of the virus. China responded with threats of boycotted beef and also put a tariff on barley exports. In addition, China told its citizens to stay clear of Australia this month due to the nation’s rise in racial discrimination.

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