China suspected as spies hack Australian PM emails

Discussion in 'China' started by ejazr, Mar 29, 2011.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Oct 8, 2009
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    Hyderabad and Sydney
    China suspected as spies hack Gillard

    UPDATE 9am: AUSTRALIA should not panic in light of a suspected cyber attack on at least 10 parliamentary computers including that of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, experts claim.

    The computers of at least 10 ministers including Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the Foreign Affairs Minister and Defence Minister are suspected of being hacked.

    It is believed that several thousand emails may have been accessed.

    Senior sources in the Government have confirmed that the espionage occurred over more than a month beginning last month.

    Four Government sources confirmed that they had been told Chinese intelligence agencies were among a list of suspected foreign hackers.

    An investigation is believed to have been started by ASIO after Australian intelligence agencies were tipped off to the cyber spy raid by US intelligence officials within the CIA and FBI.

    Dr Benjamin MacQueen, of Monash University’s Political and Social Inquiry department, told this morning that it was important to remember the secure departmental network, which ministers use for more sensitive communications, had not been accessed.

    “I think we can take a deep breath, and the fact that the different layers of security worked, you can interpret that as quite a good sign that the more important stuff was protected basically,” he said.

    “They didn’t hack into the secure network which would contain the more sensitive discussions.”

    Dr MacQueen said it was important for the Government to identify exactly who had accessed the information before the threat to national security could be considered.

    “There’s definitely implications. The fact that they didn’t make it into the secure network is telling though. There hasn’t been any indication of what information they’ve got other than it might be a little bit embarrassing to the Government,” he said.

    “There doesn’t seem to be any immediate national security implications because any information that would have been got would have been confidential.”

    The cyber attack is believed to have occurred on the Australian Parliament House email network used mainly for MPs' correspondence and not on the more secure departmental network, which ministers use for sensitive communications.

    An intelligence brief to the Government is believed to have revealed that hackers had been accessing the APH computers of several Cabinet ministers.

    Among the ministers' parliamentary computers believed to have been compromised were Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd's and Defence Minister Stephen Smith's. It is also believed Ms Gillard's parliamentary computer was compromised.

    Attorney-General Robert McClelland would neither confirm nor deny the incident. He said: "It's the long- standing practice of successive Australian Governments not to comment on the operations of security and intelligence agencies.

    "Australia's security and intelligence agencies, as a matter of course, work closely and co-operatively with their international counterparts on cyber security. The Australian Government takes the issue of cyber security very seriously and is constantly strengthening cyber security.

    "Australia has in place a range of measures including the Cyber Security Operations Centre within the Defence Signals Directorate and a dedicated cyber investigations unit within the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation."

    However, several Government sources confirmed to the Herald Sun that they had been made aware of the breach to the parliamentary network.

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