The Australian Signals Directorate’s (ASD) annual cyber threat report reveals that China, Russia and Iran are the main sponsors of serious hacking actions targeting the country’s businesses and critical infrastructure. According to the report, serious attacks increased from two to five last year, compromising sensitive data from federal government agencies and critical infrastructure.
China is identified as the main conspirator, followed by Russia and Iran. More Australians are reporting being victimized by cyber criminals, with a 23% increase in cyber crime reports compared to last year. Even well-known companies such as Optus, Australia’s second largest telecommunications company, and Medibank, the leading health insurance company, have suffered security breaches in the past year.
In the face of this growing threat, Australia has stepped up its efforts to stop foreign hackers. The government has invested A$10 billion in ASD to strengthen its cyber capabilities and defences. Although China is Australia’s largest trading partner, it also raises national security concerns.
Australia joined the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network, made up of the United States, Great Britain, Canada and New Zealand, to identify China as responsible for cyber attacks on the infrastructure of the United States. To date, there has been no official response from the Chinese authorities to these accusations.
The ASD report also highlighted the involvement of Russian criminals in the conflict in Ukraine, using harmful malware against critical infrastructure. These examples show how cyber attacks can be used as tools of war by States.