What just happened? Australia's three largest political parties have been targeted by a sophisticated cyber attack only three months before the Parliamentary election in May. PM Scott Morrison addressed Parliament this morning, stating that the attack had been contained and that the integrity of voting systems has been ensured.
Australia's major parties have been targeted by a "sophisticated state actor," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced to Parliament this morning. First reported by The Guardian, the hackers accessed the networks of the Labor, Liberal, and Nationals parties. The Australian government is unsure what, if any, data was taken during the breach.
The breach was identified quickly, and efforts to negate it resulted in destruction of forensic evidence that may have helped identify the attackers, per Australian Cyber Security Centre head Alastair MacGibbon. MacGibbon stated that the agency was currently unable to answer whether or not data had been stolen because the agencies involved were "acting extraordinarily quickly and very openly, so we are piecing together all of the events."
PM Morrison said there was no evidence of any interference with the electoral balloting system, and that measures had been put in place to ensure its integrity.
The attacks are believed to carry the hallmarks and digital fingerprints of China, although it's possible that another state could be replicating Chinese methods in order to deflect blame towards them.
With the next Parliamentary election only three months away, there is fear that the attackers were able to obtain private correspondence that may be used for the purpose of election interference. This would echo the suspected Russian interference during the 2016 United States election, in which the Democratic National Committee had damaging information released during the presidential campaign.
The attack is believed to have occurred at the beginning of February, which led to House Speaker Tony Smith and Senate President Scott Ryan releasing a joint statement reassuring Parliament that no data had been accessed or taken. This was not repeated by Morrison during his address today, fueling speculation that there may have been sensitive data stolen by the hackers.