Australian political parties hacked ahead of election

A "sophisticated" attack targeted Australia's major political parties just three months before federal elections are expected to take place

19Feb

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed that "sophisticated state actors" have carried out cyberattacks on Australia's main political parties three months prior to an expected federal election.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, sources described the level of sophistication as "unprecedented", although these sources and the country's government have yet to confirm which foreign government was behind the attacks, despite heavy speculation that China was responsible.

"Our cyber experts believe that a sophisticated state actor is responsible for this malicious activity," said PM Morrison, who added that Australian security agencies "acted decisively to confront it".

The attack, which had the hallmarks of Chinese intelligence agencies, could have been carried out by another foreign power replicating Chinese digital footprints, according to Australian security services.

"I have instructed the Australian Cyber Security Centre to be ready to provide any political party or electoral body in Australia with immediate support, including making their technical experts available," Morrison declared.

"They have already briefed the electoral commissions and those responsible for cybersecurity for all states and territories," the PM added. "They have also worked with global antivirus companies to ensure Australia's friends and allies have the capacity to detect this malicious activity. We have acted decisively to protect our national interests."

The next federal election has yet to be called by the PM, although reports suggest that the election will take place before the end of May, with election rules stating that the next federal election must be held by May 18, 2019, for half of the Senate and on or before November 2, 2019, for the House of Representatives and Territory Senators.

The ruling Liberal/National coalition currently trail the opposition Labor Party in most polls, although a recent Ipsos poll saw the coalition closing the gap to just two points, trailing 49% to 51%.

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