Australia is confident that China was behind cyberattacks on its parliament and political parties, but decided not to make public accusations to avoid disrupting trade relations, according to Reuters.
Reuters learned from five sources that the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), the country’s intelligence agency, determined in March — based on the code and techniques used by the attackers — that a cyber-espionage group sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of State Security was responsible for the attacks.
China was named a suspect immediately after Australia revealed in February that parliament and three major political parties had been targeted by hackers likely sponsored by a nation state, but at the time some experts also mentioned Russia and Iran.
Unsurprisingly, China, which is Australia’s biggest trading partner, has denied any involvement and pointed out that it, too, is often a target of cyberattacks — China often makes this statement when it’s accused of hacker attacks.
Australia reportedly decided not to officially accuse China over fears that it would have a negative impact on its economy.
When they disclosed the hack, Australian officials said everyone in parliament had been forced to change their password and take other security measures, but claimed there was no evidence of access to data.
However, Reuters learned from its sources that the attackers did access policy papers and private emails after breaching the systems of the country’s Liberal, National and Labor parties.
Australia previously blamed North Korea for the WannaCry attack and Russia for the Bad Rabbit attack, but it did so alongside allies such as the U.S., the U.K. and Canada.
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