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Cyber ​​Attack in Australia: Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the perpetrator was a “complex” based in the state

Morrison revealed the attacks at a press conference on Friday, adding that the “state-based cyber actor” targets Australian organizations across a range of sectors, including all levels of government, industry, political organizations, education and health, basic service providers and other vital infrastructure operators.

He did not specify which agencies or companies were believed to be under attack, nor did he clarify the exact nature of the attacks – although he said that the government investigation had not revealed any “widespread violations of personal data.”

Morrison also did not say which state Australia believed was behind the attack. But he told reporters, “There are not a large number of state actors who can participate in this type of activity.”

“Obviously … this was done by a representative in the country with very important capabilities,” Morrison added.

Nor are the attacks new, and Morrison made clear that such threats are “a fixed issue that Australia must address.” But he added that he was asked to speak on Friday because “the frequency is increasing” over “many months.”

Possible culprit

While Morrison declined to say who might be behind the attacks, the size and timing prompted many political observers to point fingers directly at China. Asked by reporters on Friday whether Beijing was responsible, Morrison said he “cannot control speculation.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not immediately reply to a fax request for comment.

Relations between Beijing and Canberra have broken out in recent months. Australia led the call for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, and was highly critical of China’s response to the outbreak. Beijing then imposed tariffs on Australian beef and barley, and Chinese officials threatened to boycott consumers if ties continued to deteriorate.
Foreign powers have long accused China of masterminding large-scale cyber attacks against other governments. And recently, Washington warned in May that China could be behind efforts to steal coronavirus vaccine research from US research institutions and drug companies.

China has asserted that it is not a major victim of cyber attacks, not its perpetrator. The state constantly denies allegations about cyber espionage activities.

Capacity and motivation

There is “a 95% chance that China will be responsible for this attack,” Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), told CNN Business.

“It is really about understanding the capabilities and interest that any country may have in wanting to participate in this type of attack against Australia,” said Jennings, a former senior official of the Australian Defense Ministry. “There are some other capable countries, which are Russia and North Korea, but in both cases they do not have the scale to go as comprehensive as China does.”

Neither Russia nor North Korea, he added, has a “major strategic interest in Australian politics” at present.

Chinese officials have attacked the independence and credibility of ASPI, describing its reports as “distorting the facts and ridiculous.”

“There is one country that has a mixture of capacity and motivation and it is China,” Jennings said. “Frankly, there has been a pattern of this behavior by China over the years in this.”

Canberra has avoided blaming in the past on other countries for major cyber attacks, including an operation against the country’s parliament and major political parties in 2019.

Months after the attack, Reuters reported Quoted from Australian government sources – Canberra concluded secretly that China is the culprit. Reuters reported at the time that “the Chinese Foreign Ministry denied involvement in any kind of piracy attacks and said that the Internet is full of theories that are difficult to trace.”

CNN Hillary Whitman contributed to the reporting.

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