Cybersecurity

Australia Accuses China-Backed Hackers of Data Theft Amidst Efforts to Rebuild Ties

Main image to the post Australia Accuses China-Backed Hackers of Data Theft Amidst Efforts to Rebuild Ties

Australia Accuses China-Backed Hackers of Stealing Data

Australia's government cybersecurity agency has accused a China-backed hacker group of stealing passwords and usernames from two unnamed Australian networks in 2022. The agency identified the group as APT40 and stated that they remain a significant threat.

A joint report led by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) revealed that APT40 has conducted malicious cyber operations for China's Ministry of State Security, the main agency responsible for foreign intelligence. The report, which included contributions from leading cyber security agencies in the United States, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, and Germany, stated that the group's activities and techniques align with those previously attributed to APT40.

The Chinese embassy in Australia has not yet responded to a request for comment.

This accusation follows similar claims made by U.S. and British officials in March, who accused China of a large-scale cyberespionage campaign targeting millions of individuals and organizations, including lawmakers, academics, journalists, and defense contractors. They attributed the attacks to the China-backed group APT31. China dismissed these allegations as "political maneuvering."

APT stands for Advanced Persistent Threat, a term used to describe cyber actors or groups, often state-backed, that engage in malicious cyber activities. In March, New Zealand reported that APT40 had targeted its parliamentary services and parliamentary counsel office in 2021, gaining access to sensitive information.

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles stated in a media release that the Australian government is committed to protecting Australian organizations and individuals in the cyber domain. He highlighted the significance of Australia leading this type of cyber attribution for the first time.

This report comes amidst efforts by both Australia and China to rebuild their relationship following a period of strained relations. Tensions reached a low point in 2020 after Canberra called for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19. Beijing responded by imposing tariffs on several Australian commodities, most of which have since been lifted.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09