June 03, 2011

Cyber Attacks a Constant for Australia

It seems all we read in tech news these days is the proliferation of cyber attacks, especially those involving big companies. From Sony’s nearly two-month long outage to Google’s (News - Alert) Gmail security breach, it’s no wonder officials are trying to crack down and get to the bottom of it.

The U.S. is not the only one keeping tabs on the many attacks. In fact, Australian attorney-general says that cyber attacks are so frequent that their public and private networks are always under constant threat.

Robert McClelland, attorney-general, said “The position of the Australian government has not identified the source is suspected of espionage.”

“The reality is undoubtedly espionage can be made by other countries, organized criminals and even by business rivals.”

McClelland said it was “undoubtedly” beneficial to remain in Australia to develop and deploy, cyber threats, as he announced the forthcoming White Paper (News - Alert) on the Australian Internet Security, which will be published in 2012.

“The security agencies are finding malicious activity is increasing at a point where systems of government and the private sector are under constant threat,” he said in a speech to business leaders on Cybercrime.

AFP reported that the computers of Australia's prime minister, foreign and defense ministers were all suspected of being hacked in March, with China under suspicion.

Beijing has dismissed the allegations as “groundless and made out of ulterior purposes.”

China is getting a lot of the blame this week, and Google was the one to point the finger.

Hundreds of Gmail passwords have been compromised from accounts, which include American politicians, and so Google is putting the blame on an already strained relationship with China.

China, however, says it is not to blame for the hack.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei called it unacceptable for Google to blame China for trying to steal the email account passwords of senior U.S. government officials, Chinese activists and journalists.

The allegations that the Chinese government is supporting hacking are baseless, said Hong, and stem from what he says are ulterior motives. He added the Chinese government highly values Internet safety and monitors the Internet.

Google said, “This campaign, which appears to originate from Jinan, China, affected what seem to be the personal Gmail accounts of hundreds of users including, among others, senior U.S. government officials, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries (predominantly South Korea), military personnel and journalists.”

With the frequency of cyber attacks on governments and large corporations on the rise, military establishments like Pentagon are looking to take urgent measures. Sources suggest that Pentagon has already finished drafting its first official computer sabotage strategy after the recent breach at Google.

The Pentagon has maintained that cyber attacks on the country will be treated as an act of war. Sending a clear message to the Chinese perpetrators, Pentagon officials went on to suggest that US could opt for military retaliation. The Wall Street Journal quoted an official as saying, “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smoke stacks”.

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Michelle Amodio is a TMCnet contributor. She has helped promote companies and groups in all industries, from technology to banking to professional roller derby. She holds a bachelor's degree in Writing from Endicott College and currently works in marketing, journalism, and public relations as a freelancer.

Edited by Jennifer Russell