Security

China blamed for hacking Australia’s spy, foreign affairs, defense, and government agencies

Image Credit: Illustration by Tom Cheredar

China has hacked Australia’s chief espionage agency, ASIO, its foreign affairs department, department of defense, and defense companies, according to a report by the Australian Broadcast Corporation.

“ASIO has fallen victim to Chinese hackers,” the report stated.

The breach in ASIO reportedly revealed all the plans to the spy agency’s brand-new headquarters, which would give significant advantages to spies attempting to infiltrate the building, either physically or electronically.

“The stolen blueprints included the building’s security and communications systems, its floor plan, and its server locations,” the ABC said in another statement.

One of the affected companies is a military technology company, Codan, that makes communications equipment for military and law enforcement use in America and Britain. Codan was penetrated, hacked, and had industrial secrets stolen. And top government bodies such as Parliament House, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Defense Department had their classified email and secure networks breached.

The overall effect, according to a secret source, is that huge amounts of secure, private, and in some cases very sensitive data has been lost — over a number of years.

This is nothing new to American companies and security agencies, which have been dealing with Chinese hacking attacks for years.

The Pentagon accused China of international electronic espionage just weeks ago, saying that “China is using its computer network exploitation capability to support intelligence collection against the U.S. diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors that support U.S. national defense programs.” Chinese cyberspies infiltrated a UK-based defense contractor and stole American military secrets, according to reports surfacing earlier this month. And American companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple have accused China of hacking attacks.

Wikilieaks documents have shown the vast breadth of Chinese hacking attempts, which seem to be state-directed.

China, for its part, typically denies the allegations.

“Cyberattacks are anonymous and transnational, and it is hard to trace the origin of attacks, so I don’t know how the findings of the report are credible,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in February in response to a report that a Chinese military hacking group stole hundreds of terabytes of data from 141 U.S. organizations since 2006.

At some point, however, where there’s smoke … there’s fire.

And we probably just have to all accept — and deal with — the fact that there is a vast global cybersecurity war occurring right under our noses, probably from both sides, with unseen wins and losses for all sides.

Image credit: Illustration by Tom Cheredar/VentureBeat