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Amid ongoing tensions with China, Australia hit by a massive and malicious “state-based cyber-attack”

Last year too, the main political parties and parliament in Australia were hit by a "malicious intrusion" on their computer networks carried out by a "sophisticated state actor". It was then reported that the Australian intelligence agencies suspected China of being behind the attack.

Australia is currently been targeted by a massive and “malicious” cyber-attack by a foreign government, Australian PM Scott Morrison said at the Parliament House, Friday.

In an urgent press conference called this morning in Canberra, the Australian PM said that the ongoing large scale cyber attack on government as well as private institutions are being executed by a “sophisticated state-based cyber actor.”

“This activity is targeting Australian organisations across a range of sectors, including all levels of government, industry, political organisations, education, health, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure,” Morrison told reporters.

The Australian PM said that this activity is not new and the frequency has only been increasing over many months, furthered the Australian PM.

The scale of the cyberattack in Australia hints that it no random attack

The PM said the cyber experts have identified that it is a no random attack but a state hack because of the scale and nature of the targeting and the tradecraft used. Though the PM did not give “public attribution” to any country, he said that not many states can engage in this type of activity.

Asked if China was to blame, the Prime Minister said that the “threshold to formally identify a state-based actor was high but the list of possible suspects was not long”.

Australian government sources have said China is behind the attack

A report by news.com.au said that the Australian government sources have said China is behind the attack. It read that last year, Australia’s main political parties and parliament were hit by a “malicious intrusion” on their computer networks carried out by a “sophisticated state actor”. The Reuters news agency had then reported that the Australian intelligence agencies suspected China to be behind 2019 hack. Then too, Canberra had declined to comment.

Moreover, this attack comes at the time when Australia’s diplomatic relation with its biggest trade partner, China is extremely vulnerable over new tariffs on barley and warnings to tourists and overseas students to no longer travel to the island nation amid the coronavirus threat. Australia has been extremely critical of China over the handling of Coronavirus crisis during the beginning. Australia alleges China of hiding the pandemic during its earlier phases which could have helped in containing it.

A report by BBC also said that the cyber intelligence experts have long linked various hacks in Australia to China. They say China is one of the few states, along with Russia, Iran, and North Korea, which have the capacity for such attacks.

“There’s always simmering tensions between Russia and China so really it comes down to those being the key actors they (Australia) would be referring to,” expert Joshua Kennedy-White told the BBC.

Meanwhile, the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that no major personal data breaches had been made as he advised to “continue to be as ever-vigilant as we possibly can”.

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