A pre-election cyberattack hits Australia

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia on Monday blamed a “sophisticated state actor” for the recent hacking of Parliament’s computer network, raising the specter of foreign interference in the country’s politics weeks before a national election.

australia cyber attack scott morrison, australia cyber attack february 2019
Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia making a statement on cyber security, on Monday. Picture by Mick Tsikas/EPA via Shutterstock

An unidentified foreign government is likely responsible for a hack of Australia’s major political parties and its parliament’s computer network, according to a statement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday.

The Australian government was already investigating an attack on the parliament that occurred early February when it became aware, 10 days later, that the Liberal, Labor, and National parties had also been breached.

Australia’s federal elections are coming up in May, but Morrison assured the country there had not been any electoral interference — even as the Australian Cyber Security Centre admitted it did not know what information had been stolen.

“A sophisticated state actor” is the culprit, according to Morrison, and many policy experts are pointing to China or Russia. The attack draws attention to the potential meddling (by at least one of those countries) in the 2016 US elections, and how this could be repeated.

It’s also possible the responsible organization tried to mimic China to encourage Australian and foreign officials to point fingers. China has denied any role in the attack.

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[NYT, Al Jazeera, BBC News, TechCrunch, The Verge]

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