Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed in Parliament that several major Australian political parties were hacked several weeks ago.
It was already known that the Parliament House computer network had been recently compromised, but now the Prime Minister has confirmed that the Liberal, Labor and National parties were also hacked.
It is currently unknown who the culprit behind the cyber attack is, with Mr Morrison referring to them simply as a “sophisticated state actor”.
Cyber security agencies were reportedly investigating China being involved in the parliamentary computer Network breach. Today’s revelation may further fuel the speculation, as China has been behind previous attacks, including the Parliamentary computer network in 2011.
Concerns of political interference has been at the front of authorities minds after Russia was found to behind the hacking and release of internal emails within the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair during the 2016 US election
There is concern that this breach may have the capacity for electoral interference in the upcoming May election. Attackers could gain access to internal emails, polling results and campaign information.
Apprehension around this possibility has largely been a result of Russia hacking and releasing emails from the Democratic National Committee during Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential run.
However, the Prime Minister assured Parliament that there has been no evidence of tampering, and has offered immediate support from the Australian Cyber Security Centre to all political parties and electoral bodies.
It remains unclear if any data has been stolen in this breach – but Mr Morrison has stated that the the Australian government is investing in more comprehensive cyber security.
You can read the entire transcript from Scott Morrison below.
“We are all united in our Parliament, in our commitment to democratic principles.
Members will be aware that the Australian cyber security centre recently notified of a malicious intrusion into the Australian Parliament House computer network.
During the course of this work, we also became aware that the networks of some political parties, Liberal, Labor and Nationals have also been affected.
Our security agencies have detected this activity and acted decisively to confront it.
They are securing these systems and protecting users.
Now, I do not propose to go into the detail of these operational matters, but our cyber experts believe that a sophisticated state actor is responsible for this malicious activity.
Let me be clear, though there, is no evidence of any electoral interference.
We have put in place a number of measures to ensure the integrity of our electoral system. I have instructed the Australian Cyber Security Centre to be ready to provide any political party or electoral body in Australia with immediate support, including making their technical experts available.
They have already briefed the Electoral Commissions and those responsible for cyber security for all states and territories.
They have also worked with global anti-virus companies to ensure Australia’s friends and allies have the capacity to detect this malicious activity.
We have acted decisively to protect our national interests. The methods used by malicious actors are constantly evolving and this incident just reinforces yet again the importance of cyber security as a fundamental part of everyone’s business.
The Australian government will continue to take a proactive and coordinated approach to protecting Australia’s sovereignty, our economy and our national security.
That is why the government has invested in higher security, including strengthening the Australian cyber security centre by bringing all of the Australian government’s cyber security capability together in one place.
Our political system and our democracy remains strong, vibrant and is protected. We stand united in the protection of our values and our sovereignty.
The government has chosen to be transparent about these matters. This is in itself an expression of faith by our government in our democratic system and our determination to defend it.”
This story is updating