Monday, 26 August, 2019

Federal Parliament recoils from potentially foreign cyber-attack

Australia's Parliament House Security breach strikes parliament's IT network - Security
Deanna Wagner | 10 February, 2019, 08:50

But the presiding officers of Parliament, in Canberra, said all users have been ordered to reset their passwords as a precaution.

There is no evidence that any data has been accessed but the investigation remains ongoing, Speaker Tony Smith and Senate President Scott Ryan said in a joint statement today.

Federal MPs' emails and data may have been compromised by a cyber attack on Parliament that is being described as "sophisticated", suggesting the involvement of a foreign government.

Computer passwords were resent as a precaution as investigation continued.

Previous year the Notifiable Data Breach Scheme was introduced in Australia, requiring most organisations with a turnover above $3 million to report any breaches likely to result in serious harm to the individuals affected and Australia's privacy watchdog.

"The Department of Parliamentary Services and relevant agencies are working jointly to take the necessary steps to investigate the incident, while our immediate focus has been on securing the network and protecting data and users", the officials said.

The officers said they had no evidence as yet that the hack was an attempt to influence or disrupt parliament.

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In 2015 and 2016, there were high-profile attacks on the government's weather and statistics agencies.

"The Department of Parliamentary Services responded immediately to the detection", a spokesperson said.

In a statement emailed to The Register, the Australian Signals Directorate, an intelligence collection and detection agency similar to the National Security Agency in the USA, confirmed it is working with the Department of Parliamentary Services to secure the government's network but offered no indication about the suspected source of the attack. "Proper and accurate attribution of a cyber incident takes time".

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the breach - which he was confident was being handled properly - is a "wake up call".

The same was not true in mid-2017, however, when an attacker appeared to have breached 90 email accounts used by British Members of Parliament, as well as staff and civil servants.

The attack was carried out just several months ahead of parliamentary elections in the country. "If I'm prime minister I'm going to invest a lot more in the cyber security of our small and medium sized enterprises".