Original Story news.com.au June 19 2020
China has responded to accusations it is the “state-based actor” behind a massive and “malicious” cyber attack on Australia.
China has denied it is behind a massive and “malicious” cyber attack on Australia’s essential services, government agencies, industry and infrastructure.
Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Foreign Ministery spokesman Geng Shuang flipped the accusation on its head, casting China as “the biggest victim” of such attacks.
“China is a staunch upholder of cyberspace security and we have been the biggest victim of cyber attacks,” he said.
“We have been firmly opposing and combating all forms of cyber attacks. Our position is clear and consistent.”
He said the idea that China was behind the attack on Australia was “wholly baseless and nonsense.”
Earlier today, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that a state-based actor, which news.com.au understands to be China, had launched a significant increase in cyber activity. He made his public statement after briefing the state premiers last night.
The new cyber attack follows reports that Australia’s cyber intelligence agency, the Defence Signals Directorate, had concluded last year that China’s Ministry of State security was responsible for a major attack on Parliament and political parties in the lead up to the 2019 election.
Government sources say China is behind the attack and Mr Morrison refused to shut down speculation that the nation was the “sophisticated state-based actor” behind the attack. Refusing to name the foreign entity, the Prime Minister stressed investigations were continuing by the Defence Signals Directorate and law enforcement agencies.
The attack follows rising diplomatic tensions with China, Australia’s biggest trading partner, over new tariffs on barley and warnings to tourists and overseas students to no longer travel here.
“I’m here today to advise you that, based on advice provided to me by our cyber experts, Australian organisations are currently being targeted by a sophisticated State-based cyber actor,’’ Mr Morrison said.
“This activity is targeting Australian organisations across a range of sectors, including all levels of Government, industry, political organisations, education, health, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure.
“We know it is a sophisticated State-based cyber actor because of the scale and nature of the targeting and the trade craft used.”
Asked if China was to blame, the Prime Minister stressed that the threshold to formally identify a state-based actor was high but the list of possible suspects was not long.
“The Australian Government is not making any public attribution about these matters,’’ he said.
“We are very confident that this is the actions of a state-based actor. We have not gone any further than that. I can’t control what speculation others might engage in on this issue or, frankly, any other. I have simply laid out the facts as we know them and as we have disclosed today.
“As I just said, the threshold for attribution on these issues is high.