Australian Parliament Hacked

Australian government authorities say that a simple click of a mouse was all it took to penetrate  in what should have been  one of the country's most secure IT systems at the Federal Parliament in Canberra which took place in January this year.. 

The Australian Signals Directorate’s Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) is continuing to respond to the widespread malware campaign known as Emotet while also responding to reports that hackers are exploiting the BlueKeep vulnerability to mine cryptocurrency.

Cyber security experts say it took more than a week in January to eject the state-sponsored attacker from the Australian Parliament’s computing network after it was compromised by malware. In answers to questions on notice to budget estimates hearings, Senate President Scott Ryan said the malware infection occurred when a small number of the network’s 4000 users visited an unnamed website that itself had been compromised.

“A small number of users visited a website that was outside of parliamentary management and that website had been compromised causing malware to be injected into the parliamentary computing network,” he said. Ryan said the cyberattack took a total of nine days before the infiltration was stamped out after it was first discovered on 31 January.

Previous Cyber Attacks

In February 2010 there were a series of denial of service attacks conducted by the Anonymous online community against the Australian government in response to proposed web censorship regulations. Operation Titstorm was the name given to the cyberattacks by the perpetrators.

They resulted in lapses of access to government websites. This was accompanied by emails, faxes, and phone calls harassing government offices. The actual size of the attack and number of perpetrators involved is unknown but it was estimated that the number of systems involved ranged from the hundreds to the thousands. The amount of traffic caused disruption on multiple government websites.

Current Attack

While it was previously said only a small amount of data had been taken by the attacker new details on the type of data taken has now been disclosed. “The small amount of non-sensitive data refers to DPS corporate data and data related to a small number of parliamentarians..... I will not address matters related to members of the House of Representatives; they should be addressed to the Speaker,” Ryan said. Any impact on the email accounts of parliamentarians either had or would be discussed with those parliamentarians directly" he added.

The new information is likely to be the some of the only details released about the attack, with the federal government unlikely to release a report. This is at odds with other organisations like the Australian National University, which was credited for its openness regarding its recent cyber hacks. 

A state-sponsored actor is still widely believed to have been responsible for the attack, which was also later found to have hacked into the different National Parties networks/websites. 

Reuters reported in September that multiple sources claim that the attack came from China. Ryan also confirmed recently that there was no evidence of “insider involvement or assistance in the compromise”.

ITN News      ABC:     Gov,au        Wikipedia:  

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