China denounces accusations behind cyber attack on Australian government, business


China has responded to accusations that it is “the sophisticated state actor” that launched a massive cyberattack against the Australian government and businesses.

Australian Strategic Policy Institute executive director Peter Jennings said the attack was “95% or more” likely to have been launched from China.

But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian rejected the allegations and targeted the institute in particular.

“As we have repeatedly pointed out, this institute has long received funding from the United States government and arms dealers,” Zhao told reporters in a daily press briefing.

“He exaggerated or created all kinds of anti-Chinese subjects.

“He has no reputation. The attacks and reproaches coming from this institute against China are completely baseless and absurd.

Zhao said that China is a “ staunch defender of cybersecurity ” and claimed that it had been the biggest victim of cyber attacks.

Chinese President Xi Jinping drives Hong Qi car after inspecting troops on parade to celebrate 70th anniversary of founding of the People's Republic of China

Chinese President Xi Jinping drives Hong Qi car after inspecting troops on parade to celebrate 70th anniversary of founding of the People’s Republic of China

The Australian government’s decision to raise concerns about cybersecurity comes at a time of growing friction with China.

The two countries clashed over the origin of the coronavirus, the trade and, more recently, the death sentence against an Australian drug trafficker.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Friday that Australia is the target of an increase in cyberattacks by a foreign entity.

“We know he’s a sophisticated state-based cyber actor because of the breadth and nature of the targeting and the profession used,” said Morrison.

He has refused to name the country carrying out the attacks, nor has opposition leader Anthony Albanese, who has been briefed by Australian security agencies.

But Mr. Jennings said it was probably China because of the scale and intensity of the attack.

“A few others have the capacity but they don’t have the scale to do it as broadly as that,” said Jennings.

On Saturday, Mr. Jennings said that Zhao’s claims about the ASPI were “laughable nonsense”.

“It doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny,” he said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian Rejects Claims That China Was the Origin of a Cyber ​​Attack on Australia

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian Rejects Claims That China Was the Origin of a Cyber ​​Attack on Australia

Prime Minister Scott Morrison shakes hands with General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping

Prime Minister Scott Morrison shakes hands with General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping

Sean Duca, a cybersecurity expert at Palo Alto Networks, said the attacks resembled the February 2019 attack on the parliamentary system, also blamed on China.

“We discovered by analyzing the code itself … that the attackers had reused much of the code that had been used by other people in the past,” said Duca.

“ And one particular tool that was used was a tool that was used in the February 2019 attack on Parliament. ”

He said it was important that every Australian organization tightens up security, fixes systems and uses multi-factor authentication and biometrics.

“Australia is definitely a leading country in driving a digital economy, but there are attackers who seek to disrupt our economy and disrupt our livelihoods,” he said.

“We have to think of better and smarter ways to do it.”

Zhao (photo in February) said China was a `` staunch defender of cybersecurity '' and claimed that it had been the biggest victim of cyber attacks

Zhao (photo in February) said China was a “ staunch defender of cybersecurity ” and claimed that it had been the biggest victim of cyber attacks

While critical infrastructure and information remain Australia’s most protected cyber assets, experts warn that trust in democratic institutions is our most vulnerable target.

They say that authoritarian powers like China, Russia, North Korea and Iran are trying to overwhelm the West with paranoia and distrust of governments, the media, science and the independent judiciary.

“While the nominal targets of this attack have not been identified, the deepest target is the institutional trust that enables Australia’s open democratic system to function,” said Dr. Zac Rogers, national security analyst at Flinders University. news.com.

“The threat of an enemy at the doors can turn pale compared to the damage caused by the monster under the bed.”

Cyberattacks that involved various spearphishing techniques such as sending links to websites collecting credentials, emails containing links to malicious files, and emails with others

Cyberattacks that involved various spearphishing techniques such as sending links to websites collecting credentials, emails containing links to malicious files, and emails with others “Click events”.

“The irony of the information age would be that it could herald the end of influence.”

China has denied any involvement in the cyber attack and has even declared that it was the victim.

“China is a staunch defender of cyberspace security and we have been the biggest victim of cyber attacks,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

“We have firmly opposed and are fighting against all forms of cyberattacks. Our position is clear and consistent. “

China and Australia have shared an increasingly icy relationship in recent months.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday that Australia was under increasing cyber attack from

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday that Australia was under increasing cyber attack from “sophisticated state-based cyber actor”

Who was behind the attack and why?

Senior sources said government agencies believed China was behind the campaign.

Cyberspace specialist Nick Savvides, director of strategic affairs at Forcepoint, told Daily Mail Australia that ten to 15 states may be behind the attack, including Russia, China, Iran and Korea. North.

He said the motivation for a state-sponsored cyber attack may be to gain a foothold in enemy systems to shut down key schools, hospitals and industries in the event of war.

“Attribution is really difficult because you can be anyone in cyberspace,” said Savvides.

“Hackers can give the impression that the operations come from another state by imitating another actor of state.

“To some it may seem like Scott Morrison is trying not to name a suspect, but I sympathize with him.

“We are in an increased geopolitical climate, so you have to be absolutely sure and have evidence that you can declare publicly before you appoint someone.”

Savvides said the Prime Minister used “very powerful language” when declaring that the attack was carried out by a state.

He said current trade tensions with China could lead people to believe that the attack was ordered by Beijing – but another state could take advantage of it to get away with it.

Mr. Savvides said he thought Mr. Morrison gave the press conference today to tell the attackers “we are by your side and we know what you are doing”.

The Executive Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Peter Jennings, said he was 95% sure it was China.

“The Russians could do it. The North Koreans could do it, but none of them has an interest in the scale of it. They have no interest in state and territory governments or universities, ”he said. The Australian.

“The only country that has had an interest in going as far and as deep as that, and the only country with the sophistication and size of the intelligence services to do so, is China.”

Beijing and Canberra have disagreed since Morrison called for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus and the role of the Communist Party in concealing the initial epidemic.

China responded by imposing an 80% tariff on Australian barley and telling students and tourists not to travel downstairs with the apparent aim of harming the Australian economy.

Intelligence officials blamed China for a major cyber attack on the Australian parliament last year – and critics say the escalation of attacks may be part of a Chinese campaign to intimidate or intimidate Australia due to trade tensions.

This time, all levels of the Australian government were allegedly targeted in cyberattacks that involved various spearphishing techniques such as sending links to websites collecting credentials, emails containing links to malicious files and emails with other clicks. events, ” said the Australian Cyber ​​Security Center.

Education sector has been targeted by cyber attacks that have been happening for months (stock image)

Education sector has been targeted by cyber attacks that have been happening for months (stock image)

How are the attacks going?

The Australian Cyber ​​Security Center identified the actor using various spearfishing techniques.

This spearphishing took the form of:

Links to websites for collecting credentials

Emails containing links to malicious files or with the malicious file directly attached

Links inviting users to grant OAuth Office 365 tokens to the actor

Using email tracking services to identify when emails are opened and to attract click events

Source: Australia Cyber ​​Security Center

The state government of New South Wales was among the main targets of cyber-raids, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The Australian Cyber ​​Security Center said that “ advanced persistent threat actors ” or APTs even attacked Australian COVID-19 data.

“APT groups may be looking for information and intellectual property regarding vaccine development, treatments, research and responses to the epidemic, as this information is now more important and a priority worldwide” said the center.

“As a result, the Australian health and research sectors may be at greater risk of being targeted and potentially compromised by malicious APT groups.”

Chinese troops parade during a military parade in Tiananmen Square in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China

Chinese troops parade during a military parade in Tiananmen Square in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China

What you need to do NOW to avoid being hacked by China: the simple steps that help you stay safe online as cyber attackers target Australia

Defense Minister Linda Reynolds explained to companies today how to improve their cybersecurity as Australia faces a series of major cyber attacks from a “sophisticated state player”.

Cyber-experts said it was the first time in history that an Australian Minister of Defense had addressed the nation with specific technical advice to avoid being hacked.

She urged companies to check their security systems and take additional measures such as ensuring that employees use multi-factor identification to log in to the devices.

Defense Minister Linda Reynolds (left) today told businesses how to improve their cybersecurity as Australia faces a series of major cyber attacks from a `` sophisticated state player ''

Defense Minister Linda Reynolds (left) today told businesses how to improve their cybersecurity as Australia faces a series of major cyber attacks from a “ sophisticated state player ”

Major sources told Daily Mail Australia that government agencies believe China is behind the relentless campaign to hack into Australian business systems. In the photo: Chinese people in an internet cafe

Major sources told Daily Mail Australia that government agencies believe China is behind the relentless campaign to hack into Australian business systems. In the photo: Chinese people in an internet cafe

Reynolds also warned companies to download recent software, secure their cloud platforms, and report any breaches to the Australia Cyber ​​Security Center.

She said: “ First, quickly fix your internet connected devices, making sure that all web or email servers are fully updated with the latest software.

“Second, make sure you always use multi-factor authentication to secure your Internet access, your infrastructure and also your CLOUD platforms.

Dane Meah of cybersecurity company InfoTrust said the announcement “reminds that cybersecurity is crucial”.

“Often security projects are one of the first to be cut during a recession and this could potentially cause even more damage to the Australian economy if we see companies starting to fall victim to these attacks,” said he declared.

“Our advice to businesses would be to review the controls, policies and procedures they currently have in place, including testing a response plan and educating staff about the threats.”

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