Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Defence responds to cyber attack incident

Defence responds to cyber attack incident

Australia's peak cyber security agency called a hacker who stole gigabytes of confidential defence data from a national security contractor after Alf Stewart from the long-running Australian soap opera Home & Away.

"While the Australian company is a national security-linked contractor and the information disclosed was commercially sensitive, it was unclassified".

The security breach began in July past year, but the Australian Signals Directorates (ASD) was not notified until the November.

Mr Pyne said he did not know who was responsible but the information collected by the Australian Signals Directorate was highly classified anyway, meaning the government was unlikely to reveal what it knew about the identity of the hacker.

"In a separate comment on the issue, the country's Defense Industry Minister Christopher Pyne told the Australian Broadcasting Corp that "it could be one of a number of different actors".

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Clarke said the "methodical, slow and deliberate", choice of target suggested a nation-state actor could be behind the attack, according to Reuters.

The aerospace engineering firm in question had an IT department consisting of just one person who had been working there for nine months.

Mr Pyne said Australia has experienced an increase in cyberattacks at a time when it is carrying out a $39bn (€25.7bn) submarine project. In 2011 for example, a major Japanese defence contractor was hacked.

The secret information was restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), the U.S. system created to regulate the export of defence and military-related technologies, according to Mitchell Clarke, an incident response manager at the ASD who worked on the case.

Access was initially gained by exploiting a 12-month-old vulnerability in the company's IT Helpdesk Portal, which was mounting the company's file server using the Domain Administrator account.

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A sensitive information about the defense programmes of Australia has been compromised in an "extensive" cyber-attack.

Stephen Burke, founder and CEO at training firm Cyber Risk Aware said the incident is another example of IT admin not carrying out IT security best practices.

"This is a classic example of where rigid security, tied into an infrastructure that extends beyond the organisation (the Australian government) has led to weakened cyber security".

Mr Clarke described the security breach as "sloppy admin". "Which means that, in the inevitability of a breach occurring, the data to which hackers can gain access is constrained".

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