Australia probes attempted hacking of national parliament

The new security fence outside Parliament House

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Chinese hackers could be behind a breach of the federal parliamentary computing network which is being investigated by Australia's top cybersecurity agency.

Lawmakers said there was "no evidence" that information had been accessed or stolen, but politicians' passwords have been reset as a precaution.

"Parliament at least has resources to protect if people try and hack into our systems", he told reporters in Sydney.

"If you look at what goes on in Parliament House, you've got politicians, you've got staffers, you've got government departments that are moving in and out of the organisation and a lot of that is through electronic means", Phair, an adjunct professor, was quoted as saying by the news outlet.

"ASD and its Australian Cyber Security Centre will continue to work with (Parliament) to understand the full extent of this network compromise", an ASD spokesman told AFP.

"My primary concern is making sure we get that offender out and we keep the offender out", he said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said that he was satisfied with the security response but that the attack was a "wake up call", stressing that many other networks in Australia would not being able to respond to a similar attack as quickly as government agencies.

Last November, Chinese experts living in Australia said recent report about China's state security police hacking and spying on Australian businesses were "credible".

Australia's ties with Russia, meanwhile, soured after the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in 2014, brought down by a Russian surface-to-air missile.

All parliamentary passwords were reset as a precaution.

In late 2017, the Scottish Parliament, known as Holyrood, alerted 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament, or MSPs, as well as staff, that their email accounts were being targeted in unauthorized login attempts.

State-backed hackers were likely to be responsible, one academic said.

In 2011, China was suspected of a breach in the parliamentary email system that affected lawmakers and parliamentary staff. In response, IT teams disabled remote access to the accounts.

They were also quick to distance the incident from any "attempt to influence to outcome of parliamentary processes or to disrupt or influence electoral or political processes".

But he refused to offer details on the breaches at Parliament House.

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