In a media statement released on June 19th, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that “Australian organisations are currently being targeted by a sophisticated state-based cyber actor.” He stated that the perpetrator was most likely a government due to the large scale of the attacks and the level of technology utilized.
The same statement informed that the victims of the attacks were “Australian organisations across a range of sectors, including all levels of government, industry, political organisations, education, health, essential service providers, and operators of other critical infrastructure.”
There was scarce information regarding the implications and damages of the attacks.
Morrison revealed that these incidents have been happening for the past months but have recently become more frequent. The goal of the announcement was to incentivize national businesses to take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety.
Although Morrison did not blame any specific country, he did say “what I can confirm is there are not a large number of state-based actors that can engage in this type of activity.”
One anonymous government source told Reuters “there is a high degree of confidence that China is behind the attacks”. The Australian government has not officially commented on this.
In response, the Chinese government has already issued a statement denying any involvement in this incident. In a press conference conducted on June 19th, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian stated “China is a staunch guardian of cyber security… We oppose and crack down in accordance with law all forms of cyber espionage and attacks.”
Lijian continued to say that the responsible agency for the false accusations was most likely the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, an “organization has been funded by the US government… interested in making and playing up anti-China stories”
Tension between China and Australia has escalated in the recent weeks due to China’s decision to impose tariffs on Australian products after they announced their intentions of investigating the origins of COVID-19. The situation further developed when Chinese officials recommended Chinese students against going to Australia due to possible racial encounters.