Hacking

Chinese hackers breached into systems at Australian National University … and are still there

Chinese hackers breached into the systems of Australian National University (ANU) and according to the experts they are still there.

Chinese hackers continue to target organizations worldwide, this time attackers based in China breached into the systems of Australian National University (ANU), one of the most prestigious Australian universities.

The bad news is that experts are still working to lock the hackers out because the threat is still active in the network of the Australian University.

“The ABC has been told the Australian National University (ANU) system was first compromised last year.” reported the ABC news.

The ANU had been working with intelligence agencies for several months to contain the threat and minimize its impact.

“The university has been working in partnership with Australian government agencies for several months to minimise the impact of this threat, and we continue to seek and take advice from Australian government agencies,” reads the official statement published by the Australian National University.

“Current assessments indicate no staff, student or research information has been taken and counter-measures are being undertaken.”

The Cyber Security Minister Angus Taylor pointed out that the Australian Government “condemns any malicious activity” that targets the systems of the country.

“We know that nation states and criminal groups actively target research and tertiary institutions to steal the intellectual property of hardworking Australians,” he said.

“Malicious cyber activity against Australia’s national interests, whether from criminal syndicates or foreign states, is increasing in frequency, sophistication and severity, and the Australian Government’s highest priority is ensuring Australians are safe and our interests are secure.”

Mr Taylor confirmed that the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) had been supporting ANU in this case.

“The Australian Cyber Security Centre works closely with any affected organisations to reduce the likelihood of threat actors being successful and to help them recover when they are compromised,” he said.

Australian systems are always under attack, in October 2016 a report published by the Australian Cyber Security Centre confirmed the Australian Bureau of Meteorology hack was powered by foreign cyber spies.

In December 2015 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) revealed that a supercomputer operated by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) was hit by a cyber attack. The Bureau of Meteorology is Australia’s national weather, climate, and water agency, it is the analog of the USA’s National Weather Service.

The supercomputer of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology targeted by the hackers is also used to provide weather data to defense agencies, its disclosure could give a significant advantage to a persistent attacker for numerous reasons.

Initial media reports blamed China for the cyber attack, in 2013 Chinese hackers were accused by authorities of stealing the top-secret documents and projects of Australia’s new intelligence agency headquarters.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Australian National University, hacking)

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Pierluigi Paganini

Pierluigi Paganini is member of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group and Cyber G7 Group, he is also a Security Evangelist, Security Analyst and Freelance Writer. Editor-in-Chief at "Cyber Defense Magazine", Pierluigi is a cyber security expert with over 20 years experience in the field, he is Certified Ethical Hacker at EC Council in London. The passion for writing and a strong belief that security is founded on sharing and awareness led Pierluigi to find the security blog "Security Affairs" recently named a Top National Security Resource for US. Pierluigi is a member of the "The Hacker News" team and he is a writer for some major publications in the field such as Cyber War Zone, ICTTF, Infosec Island, Infosec Institute, The Hacker News Magazine and for many other Security magazines. Author of the Books "The Deep Dark Web" and “Digital Virtual Currency and Bitcoin”.

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