cybersecurity
(Photo : Pexels/Pixabay) Australia Parliament House cyber security

Andrew Hastie, Australia's Assistant Minister for Defense, stated that the Morrison Government was forced to cut access to IT and emails at Australia's Parliament House in order to protect everyone against an incoming cyber attack. The said attack was traced back to an external provider.

Parliament House hacked

The major outage started on Mar. 27, with limited to no access to IT or mobile devices for more than 30 hours. This is after a major outage at Nine Entertainment Co. that has been connected to a cyberattack, according to Herald Sun.

Hastie stated that the issue relates to an external provider, and as soon as the issue was detected, the connection to government systems was cut immediately as the Parliament House's precaution.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre has been in contact with DPS and is now providing support and is monitoring the situation.

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Hastie added that this is a reminder that Australians can't be complacent about cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity is a team effort and a shared responsibility. It is essential that Australian businesses are alert to cybersecurity threats and take the needed steps to ensure digital sovereignty.

Amidst the attack, Hastie praised the cybersecurity chiefs by saying that the government acted fast and that they have the best minds in the world who are working to ensure Australia remains the most secure place to operate online. 

Foreign hacks suspected

According to News.Com.Au, some government sources fear that Australia's parliamentary IT system is under attack from a foreign hacker, with some suspecting China.

News.Com.Au has reached out to the Australian Signals Directorate, a spy agency, and the Department of Parliamentary Services for comment.

A DPS spokesperson stated that the agency is investigating the disruption, and the Australian Cyber Security Centre is giving advice as part of the investigation process.

In an email to parliamentary staff on Sunday, Mar. 28, the Department of Parliamentary Services has confirmed the matter is being investigated.

The statement from the DPS said that an ICT outage is affecting different services, including calendar, email, and contacts on tablets and mobile phones. However, all of the things that are already stored on mobile phones and tablets are still accessible.

Kristina Keneally, the Labor's home affairs spokesman, confirmed that Labor was seeking an urgent briefing on the matter. She said that she would not want to speculate as they are seeking a briefing from the Government on the cybersecurity issue.

The issue follows a major attack on Nine Entertainment Co. this week, which has sought the Australian Signals Directorate's assistance after it was hit on the morning of Mar. 28, taking the programs off-air.

All parliamentary staff was sent an email warning of a potential messaging scam that hit senior ministers, including Simon Birmingham, the Finance Minister. It is still not clear if the parliamentary outage and the messaging scam are connected.

The advice stated that the AFP is aware of a messaging scam that is targeting Commonwealth Parliamentarians and Australian High Office Holders.

The scam started over WhatsApp and asked recipients to download the Telegram application for the purpose of further communication.

The message asks for the recipient to forward the Two Factor Authentication or 2FA codes to the sender. This will allow the sender to take over the Telegram account of the victim.

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Written by Sieeka Khan

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