FILE PHOTO: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a joint press conference held with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Admiralty House in Sydney, Australia, February 28, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
SYDNEY (Reuters) – A “sophisticated state-based actor” has been attempting to hack a wide range of Australian organisations for months and had stepped up its efforts recently, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday.
The attacks have targeted all levels of the government, political organisations, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure, Morrison said in a media briefing in Canberra.
“We know it is a sophisticated state-based cyber actor because of the scale and nature of the targeting,” he said.
Morrison said there were not a lot of state actors that could launch this sort of attack, but Australia will not identify which country was responsible.
Australia’s Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said advice showed no large-scale personal data breaches from the attack.
The revelation comes after Reuters reported Canberra had determined in March last year that China was responsible for a hacking attack on Australia’s parliament. Australia never publicly identified that source of the attack and China denied it was responsible.
A U.S. security ally, Australia strained ties with its largest trading partner, China, by pushing for an international inquiry into the source and spread of COVID-19 that first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Tom Hogue and Lincoln Feast.