Home Security Cyber chief says not possible to attribute ANU hack

Cyber chief says not possible to attribute ANU hack

Australian Cyber Security Centre chief Alastair MacGibbon. Australian Cyber Security Centre chief Alastair MacGibbon. YouTube Featured

The head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre, Alastair MacGibbon, says it is impossible to say where the breach of systems at the Australian National University originated.

He told  The Australian on Sunday that it was "rally hard" to attribute things online and "I’m not trying to be evasive".

On Friday, the Nine News TV channel claimed that the ANU's systems had been "utterly compromised" by Chinese attackers.

Fairfax Media had a bob each way, claiming that China-based hackers had been responsible for the attack, while at the same time acknowledging that "proving this may be difficult because hackers typically aim to hide their tracks".

MacGibbon said that it was as yet unknown as to what the attackers had pilfered, talking around the topic without directly addressing it.

The ANU itself played down the breach, saying in a couple of tweets: " The University has been working in partnership with Australian Government agencies for several months to minimise the impact of this threat.

"Current assessments indicate no staff, student or research information has been taken and counter-measures are being undertaken."

In response to a query by iTWire, an ANU spokesperson said: "We have not sent any media release about this, we have only issued a statement to outlets who have asked. We also published this statement on Twitter."

The claims about the attack come in the wake of reports for at least the last six months that ties between Australia and China are under serious strain.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will soon have to announce a decision on whether to allow Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to play a role in the rollout of 5G networks in the country. The US has strongly pushed Turnbull to leave the company out in the cold.

On Friday, Huawei won a contract to build and maintain digital radio services that would provide voice and data services across the rail network in Perth.


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.


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