Australian Parliaments computer network targeted by hacker

The new security fence outside Parliament House

Australia's top cybersecurity agency is investigating a breach of the federal parliamentary computing network, which has forced the resetting of passwords.

Earlier this week, the ASD revealed Australian Government agencies suffer a serious cyber attack around once a day on average.

State-backed hackers were likely to be responsible, one academic said.

They said that there was "no evidence that this is an attempt to influence the outcome of parliamentary processes or to disrupt or influence electoral or political processes", adding that it would "take time" for the perpetrators to be identified.

There is no evidence that any data has been accessed, but the investigation remains ongoing, Speaker Tony Smith and Senate President Scott Ryan said. Meanwhile, the necessary steps are being taken to mitigate the compromise and prevent any harm.

The ABC News also quoted Nigel Phair, a cyber security expert from the University of Canberra, as underlying the seriousness of the breach.

Just a year ago, the department of parliamentary services was allocated $9 million to set up a cybersecurity operations centre.

In a statement emailed to The Register, the Australian Signals Directorate, an intelligence collection and detection agency similar to the National Security Agency in the USA, confirmed it is working with the Department of Parliamentary Services to secure the government's network but offered no indication about the suspected source of the attack.

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But he refused to offer details on the breaches at Parliament House.

"I don't propose to go into any sort of detailed commentary on the source or nature of this".

"Parliament at least has resources to protect if people try and hack into our systems", he told reporters in Sydney. "Proper and accurate attribution of a cyber incident takes time".

Senator Jordon Steele-John said on Twitter that the "incident" meant he could not access his emails.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the breach - which he was confident was being handled properly - is a "wake up call".

Alvin Rodrigues, security strategist, APAC and Sam Ghebranious, senior regional director, ANZ, Forcepoint, said: "Reports emerging today that the Australian Parliament's computer network has been hacked are deeply concerning - and yet not surprising".

The attack was carried out just several months ahead of parliamentary elections in the country.

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