Culture 2 min read

Three Australian Political Parties hit by Cyber Attacks

The world was shocked when many groups found evidence of Russian manipulation in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Just three months before their own Parliamentary elections, Australia had three major political parties targeted in cyber attacks with possible data theft.

This cyber attack could have a significant impact on the upcoming Australian elections. | Pexels

This cyber attack could have a significant impact on the upcoming Australian elections. | Pexels

By now, everyone is used to data leaks and security compromises. But instances of cyber attacks that affect large-scale agencies such as political elections remain a bigger concern. It started with reports that Russian state actors had interfered with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Though what happened in Australia didn’t involve vote manipulation, it should still give pause.

What Happened in the Attack?

The power of hacking remains clearer than ever with new types of attacks and viruses showing up daily. Hackers and infiltrators flex their muscles and our private data pays the price for it.

Over the weekend, three of Australia’s largest political parties faced a “sophisticated cyber attack“. This wouldn’t be of as much concern if their Parliamentary elections weren’t happening in May — just three months away.

Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, reported that the hackers targeted the Liberal, Labor, and Nationals political parties. They accessed their networks, but the government remains unsure of what data (if any) was stolen. You can watch his address above.

The Senate President and House Speaker initially stated that no data had been stolen. But Prime Minister Morrison’s latest announcement shows a conflicting report as he did not echo this statement.

This discrepancy led many to speculate about what the hackers actually accessed during the attack.

image of a keyboard with a fingerprint on a key with the Chinese flag on it for article Three Australian Political Parties hit by Cyber Attacks
This wouldn’t be the first time a Chinese hacking group has targeted Australian entities. A Chinese military group targeted the Australian Bureau of Meteorology in 2015. | The Conversation

Initial Reports Suggest Chinese Hackers

Luckily, cybersecurity officials identified the threat quickly and resolved it. Despite this quick action, their solutions to the attack destroyed any evidence they might have used to identify who perpetrated the cyber attacks. As mentioned, they also don’t know if data or what kind of data was taken.

Early reports show that the cyber attacks have digital fingerprints similar to those of attacks by Chinese groups. However, Australian officials also said that this could be a red herring. The hallmarks could be tools to send officials hunting for the wrong culprits.

Despite the attacks, the Australian government remains confident in its defenses for their elections.

Read More: Google Uses Asylo System to Boost Cloud Cybersecurity

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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