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Monday, 16 September 2019 09:36

China behind February Australian parliament breach: claim Featured

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China behind February Australian parliament breach: claim Pixabay

Australian intelligence officials have concluded that the breach of the Federal Parliament network in February was carried out by China, but has kept it quiet to avoid any problems in the bilateral trade relationship, a report claims.

Reuters said it had been told by five individuals who had "direct knowledge of the matter" that the Australian Signals Directorate had come to the conclusion in March that the Chinese Ministry of State Security was behind the attack.

The breach was made public on 8 February and the passwords of all users were changed as a precaution. The Liberal, National and Labor party networks were all said to have been infiltrated.

Since then there has been speculation that China was behind the hack, but no leaks have made this claim. Reuters is the first to quote unnamed sources as saying Beijing was the culprit.

The news agency said, however, that it had not had access to the classified report about the breach, which also had input from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

It said the office of Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to make any comment as did the ASD.

Contacted for comment, an ASD spokesperson said: "As a matter of long standing practice, we cannot comment further on the details of intelligence matters or operational investigations."

The Chinese Foreign Ministry told Reuters: "When investigating and determining the nature of online incidents there must be full proof of the facts, otherwise it’s just creating rumours and smearing others, pinning labels on people indiscriminately. We would like to stress that China is also a victim of Internet attacks.

“China hopes that Australia can meet China halfway, and do more to benefit mutual trust and co-operation between the two countries.”

Australia-China ties have been rocky for the last few years, after laws were passed under the former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to prevent interference by foreign countries in Australia's internal affairs.

The ban on Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies from bidding for contracts in Australia's 5G rollout did not help the situation.

More recently, there have been allegations that a Liberal MP, Gladys Liu, was a member of several Chinese organisations with ties to Beijing. Morrison, who had just a one-seat majority in Parliament, has hit out at the Opposition over these claims, labelling those who raise such questions as racists.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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