Aussie cyber attack blamed on China

Breach at Bureau of Meteorology may have compromised fed govt's computer network

A man types on a laptop computer in an arranged photograph.
A man types on a laptop computer in an arranged photograph. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SYDNEY • A major cyber attack on Australia's Bureau of Meteorology that may have compromised potentially sensitive national security information is being blamed on China, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) said yesterday.

The attack may have compromised computer systems across the federal government, ABC reported, citing unidentified sources.

The Bureau of Meteorology owns one of Australia's largest supercomputers and the attack, which ABC said occurred in recent days, may have allowed those responsible access to the Department of Defence through a linked network.

The broadcaster, citing unidentified sources with knowledge of the "massive" breach, placed the blame on China, which has in the past been accused of hacking sensitive Australian government computer systems. "It's China," ABC quoted one source as saying.

In a statement on its website, the bureau said it did not comment on security matters, but that it was working closely with security agencies and that its computer systems were fully operational.

The Australian Federal Police declined to comment on the matter, and the Department of Defence said it could not comment on specific cyber security incidents.

China's Foreign Ministry dismissed the accusation, saying Beijing opposed cyber attacks, and all parties concerned should strengthen dialogue to solve the problem "in the spirit of mutual respect".

"Groundless accusations and speculation are not constructive," ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing.

China has long been accused of using its considerable computing resources to infiltrate online businesses for competitive advantage.

China is Australia's top trading partner, with two-way trade of about A$150 billion (S$154 billion) in 2013. The two signed a landmark free trade agreement in 2014 that is likely to boost commercial ties.

But Chinese firms have been locked out of sensitive deals in the past over security concerns, most prominently a decision in 2013 to bar Huawei from the bidding for Australia's National Broadband Network, a deal worth tens of billions of dollars.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2015, with the headline 'Aussie cyber attack blamed on China'. Print Edition | Subscribe