Security Breach Forces Reset of Australian Government Network
A security breach has reportedly forced the Australian government to reset its computing network.
News reports say that the federal government has confirmed a security incident impacting its network and affecting everyone with an Australian Parliament House email address. This includes all politicians and members of their staff as well. Following this, all user passwords having network access were reset, say reports.
Leading Australian news website news.com.au says, quoting a report from Australian Associated Press, “Australia’s top cyber security agency is investigating a breach of the federal parliamentary computing network, which has forced the resetting of passwords.”
The report says that, as per a joint statement issued by Speaker Tony Smith and Senate President Scott Ryan, there is no evidence that any data has been accessed. The investigation, however, would remain ongoing. The joint statement also says that there is no evidence to suggest that this breach is an attempt to “…influence the outcome of parliamentary processes or to disrupt or influence electoral or political processes.”
The statement also clarified that the Department of Parliamentary Services, along with some agencies, is investigating the incident. The immediate focus, however, would be on securing the network and protecting data and users. Reports suggest that the Australian Signals Directorate is assisting and investigating, alongside the Department of Parliamentary Services.
Though nothing is known about the source of the attack, there are speculations that China could be behind it, according to the AAP report. “In March 2011, it was reported China was suspected of accessing the email system used by federal MPs, advisers, electorate staff and parliamentary employees…Security industry sources told AAP it was possible China could be behind the latest attack,” reads the report.
The recent years have seen the Australian government network being impacted by cyber breaches many times. A ZDNet report explains, “Over the course of the last three financial years, the federal government’s networks have been the subject of cyber incidents 1,097 times.”
The report further says, “The information was reported in response to Questions on Notice from Senate Estimates last year, with the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) — now under the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) — confirming that during FY15-16, FY16-17, and FY17-18, these cyber incidents that affected unclassified and classified government networks were considered serious enough to warrant an operational response.” (Operation responses are required when security incidents are successful and vary from telephone conversations to deployment of resources and tools to assist in mitigating the incident).
The incident affecting the Australian government network has come to light amid revelations of a cyberattack targeting the email and phone contact lists of MPs in the UK earlier this week.