Defence responds to cyber attack incident

13 October, 2017, 00:56 | Author: Cassandra Gardner
  • A hacker group codenamed'Alf after the Home and Away character has broken into a defence contractor and stolen sensitive data on military projects

Clarke said the attacker accessed the small contractor's systems for five months in 2016, and the "methodical, slow and deliberate", choice of target suggested a nation-state actor could be behind the raid. "It could be someone who was working for another company", Christopher Pyne told the broadcaster on Thursday.

A mystery hacker has stolen information about Australia's warplanes from a defence subcontractor.

The report mentions that the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) had named the advanced persistent threat (APT) as "Alf".

Investigator Mitchell Clarke, an incident response manager for the ASD, worked on the investigation and states that one of the stolen pieces of data was a wireframe diagram of "one of the navy's new ships".

Data on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft and C-130 transport plane was stolen.

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In 2016 the agency said it responded to 1,095 cyber attacks over an 18-month period, including an intrusion from a foreign intelligence service on the weather bureau.

The hacker was then able to capture the administrator credentials and use them to access to the domain controller, the remote desktop server, and email and other sensitive data. "Only about 12 months old, if you look at government, that's not that out of date, unfortunately". Additionally, Mr. Clark stated that the firm in question did not create strong passwords for the software used, relying instead on default passwords. I'm sure there is work being done finding out who did it.

The admin password, to enter the company's web portal, was "admin" and the guest password was "guest". This is not rocket science but does require resources. The company was described as a "mum and dad" business with just one IT worker for its 50 employees.

"Companies like QinetiQ are making important investment decisions now to set themselves up for success in the future and to take advantage of these opportunities", said Pyne.

"Fortunately the data that has been taken is commercial data, not military data", he said.

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However, he said "we don't necessarily let the public know" about the identities of hackers, because of the confidential nature of the environment.

The data was not classified but was commercially sensitive in nature, according to the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

"The Government does not intend to discuss further the details of this cyber incident". Breach detection times are not reducing. "Collectively, the industry needs to embrace a new approach to security", said German.

"Security thinking needs to change; organisations need to move away from the concept of owned and unowned networks or infrastructure and consider only users, applications and secure access - and the security industry must facilitate that shift". "Which means that, in the inevitability of a breach occurring, the data to which hackers can gain access is constrained". Nominations are now open for the Women in IT USA Awards 2018.

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