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Monday, 29 March 2021 13:28

Govt-issued smartphones and tablets targets of attack Featured

Govt-issued smartphones and tablets targets of attack Pixabay

The Australian Cyber Security Centre says it is aware of disruptions being experienced on some Department of Parliamentary Services-issued smartphones and tablets over this weekend.

In a statement, the ACSC said it was providing advice to DPS in this regard. iTWire contacted the DPS for comment, but is yet to hear back.

A DPS spokesperson said in a statement sent at 6.18pm:

"DPS has commenced a staged restoration of services on DPS issued smart phones and tablets following the disruption over the weekend.

"Protective mechanisms have operated correctly to prevent an unsophisticated attempt to access the Parliamentary Computer Network. The network was not compromised and there is no identified data loss.

"DPS has a very strong working relationship with the Australian Cyber Security Centre who is providing technical advice."

The Age quoted a DPS spokesperson as saying the government was working to investigate the cause of the disruption.

“DPS is working to resolve the issues and some services have been restored,” the spokesperson said.

“Some services on DPS issued smartphones and tablets have been experiencing disruptions over the weekend.”

The last time there was an attack on Parliament was in February 2019, when attackers gained access to the computer network.

Commenting on the incident, H. Daniel Elbaum, chairman and co-chief executive of digital identity provider VeroGuard Systems, said: "Governments around the world are the number one target of hackers and Australia is not immune to these attacks.

"The sensitivity of the data they hold, combined with the systems and processes their infrastructure support, means even the smallest intrusion can have a significant impact – causing major disruption to essential services and internal operations.

"Australia remains one of the world’s most hacked countries, and recent reports have shown that the Australian Government is not investing enough in cyber security. According to the latest OAIC report, the Australian Government is now one of the top five industry sectors to report data breaches.

"Email is an easy target as evidenced by the mass Microsoft Exchange server attacks that have been widely reported in Australia and elsewhere in the past month.

"Organisations are now working hard to apply critical updates and patches as they should each month - Microsoft averaged 110 security patches per month in 2020.

"However recognising that the average time to identify a breach has increased to 207 days, government and business must improve their perimeter defences by eliminating the risks of identity credential loss and account takeovers that are both the symptom and cause of these successful attacks.

"We believe the highest priority for the government has to be to build the infrastructure that properly protects users and machines digital identities. All other cyber-security measures are (and will continue to be) simply proving to be ineffective without this action."

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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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