Australia says it has been victim of 'state-based' cyber-attacks

Attacks have targeted the government, political groups and and critical infrastructure

SYDNEY - A "sophisticated state-based actor" has been attempting to hack a wide range of Australian organizations for months and had stepped up its efforts recently, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday.

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The attacks have targeted all levels of the government, political organizations, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure, Morrison said in a media briefing in Canberra.

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"We know it is a sophisticated state-based cyber actor because of the scale and nature of the targeting," he said.

Morrison said there were not a lot of state actors that could launch this sort of attack, but Australia will not identify which country was responsible.

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Australia's Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said advice showed no large-scale personal data breaches from the attack.

The revelation comes after Reuters reported Canberra had determined in March last year that China was responsible for a hacking attack on Australia's parliament. Australia never publicly identified that source of the attack and China denied it was responsible.

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A U.S. security ally, Australia strained ties with its largest trading partner, China, by pushing for an international inquiry into the source and spread of COVID-19 that first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

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