It was an awful weekend to be an IT manager. Both Parliament House and the Nine Network were the subjects of potential cyber attacks that are currently under investigation.
On Sunday, Assistant Defence Minister Andrew Hastie released a statement saying the Australian Cyber Security Centre is assisting the Department of Parliament Services with an investigation into a suspected incoming cyber attack to the government’s systems.
The government cut off access to the Parliament House’s internal network via external devices like phones and iPads, meaning that email, calendar and contacts for MPs and their staff were unavailable unless already stored on the device.
“The issue relates to an external provider, and once the issue was detected the connection to government systems was cut immediately as a precaution,” Assistant Minister for Defence Andrew Hastie told news.com.au.
Meanwhile, a similar attack had hit the Nine Network, pulling their television and digital production systems off air since early Sunday morning. They’ve since been restored.
According to a statement posted to the 9news.com.au website, the source of the intrusion rendering many of the network’s internal systems unusable is still unknown.
“The nature of the cyber attack — and if it is criminal sabotage or the work of a foreign nation — is still being investigated,” the statement read.
Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios, Katina Curtis and Tom Rabe reported that external security experts had told the company that it was “some kind of ransomware likely created by a state-based actor.”
The report noted that Nine papers had been critical of China’s government and that a Nine television program is working on a story about Russian President Vladamir Putin’s campaign of chemical assassination.
While there’s been no link established between the two events, cyber attacks on both Australia’s government and its biggest media company show the potential vulnerability of our institutions.
Let’s hope this can be a wake up to anyone who doesn’t recognise that cyber security must be a crucial consideration for any organisation.