Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed that in addition to the cyberattack launched against the Parliament House computer network several weeks ago, the country’s political parties have also suffered attacks by a “sophisticated state actor”.
Sources familiar with the matter have described the level of sophistication as “unprecedented” though it is still unclear as to which foreign government was behind the attack.
The attacks are believed to carry the digital footprints of China but Australian authorities are concerned that another state could have replicated the tactics used by Chinese intelligence to shift the blame towards them.
The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) discovered that the networks of some political parties including Liberal, Labor and Nationals were also affected while investigating the parliamentary hack that occurred several weeks ago.
The Australian government believes that a sophisticated state actor is behind the attacks but at this time only China, Russia, Israel and the US are believed to be capable of such a high-level attack.
The attacks against Australia’s political parties resemble the 2016 election interference campaign against the US by Russia when the Democratic National Committee was hacked and damaging information was released during the presidential campaign.
In his address to the Australian parliament, Mr. Morrison explained that the ACSC is prepared to handle any malicious activity ahead of the country’s election, saying:
“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. They have already briefed the electoral commissions and those responsible for cyber security for all states and territories. They have also worked with global anti-virus companies to ensure Australia’s friends and allies have the capacity to detect this malicious activity. We have acted decisively to protect our national interests.”
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