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"Sophisticated" foreign power hacks Australia's political parties

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The computer networks of Australia’s major political parties were also part by a sophisticated cyber attack by a “state actor” that affected the networks of federal parliament, the prime minister has confirmed.

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Scott Morrison says an investigation into a breach of the Australian Parliament House network on February 8 found the networks of the Liberal, Labor and Nationals were also affected.

A “state actor” is believed responsible for the attack, Morrison said.

Security sources indicated last week China could be the source.

“I do not propose to go into the detail of these operational matters, but our cyber experts believe that a sophisticated state actor is responsible for this malicious activity,” Morrison told parliament today.

The prime minister says there is no evidence of any electoral interference.

But the government has put in place a number of measures to ensure the integrity of the electoral system regardless.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre is also available to help any electoral body or political party seeking support.

“We have acted decisively to protect our national interests,” Morrison said.

“The methods used by malicious actors are constantly evolving and this incident just reinforces yet again the importance of cybersecurity as a fundamental part of everyone’s business.”

A Liberal party spokesman said the party was “working closely with security agencies” on the matter.

In March 2011, it was reported China was suspected of accessing the email system used by federal MPs, advisers, electorate staff and parliamentary employees.

Morrison’s comments come after Senate President Scott Ryan confirmed there had been no more breaches of the federal parliamentary computer system since February 8.

Ryan last week advised that there was no evidence that any data has been accessed, but that MPs and staff were required to change their passwords.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said the attempted hacking is of “grave concern” and comes after attempted infiltration of democratic processes overseas, including in the United Kingdom and the United States.

“We cannot be complacent and, as this most recent activity reported by the prime minister indicates, we are not exempt or immune,” he told parliament.

– AAP

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