Australian Government Networks Hacked

Sensitive Australian Government and corporate computer networks, including those holding highly confidential plans for a privately financed geostationary communications satellite, have been penetrated by sophisticated cyber-attacks, an ABC TV Four Corners investigation has established.

Austrade and the Defence Department's elite research division, now named the Defence Science Technology Group, both suffered significant cyber infiltrations in the past five years by hackers based in China.

Intelligence sources say they suspect the attackers in these cases were sponsored by Beijing.

Four Corners has also confirmed Newsat Ltd, an Australian satellite company whose assets were sold off last year after the company went into administration, was so comprehensively infiltrated three years ago that its entire network had to be rebuilt in secret.

But these incidents, revealed for the first time, are only a fraction of the cyber-attacks being waged against Australian governments and companies.

The Prime Minister's cyber security adviser, Alastair MacGibbon, told the program the Australian Government was "attacked on a daily basis".

"We don't talk about all the breaches that occur," he said.

Former Central Intelligence Agency boss Michael Hayden, who also served for six years as the head of the US electronic spying division, the National Security Agency (NSA), said both Australia and the US had to harden up their defences and "protect their data" from foreign cyber-attacks.

A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Canberra denied China had conducted any cyber espionage against Australian interests, calling such allegations "totally groundless" and "false clichés".

"Like other countries, China suffers from serious cyber-attacks and is one of the major victims of hacking attacks in the world," he said.

ABC: 

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