The Australian government and other organisations are being targeted by a “sophisticated state-based cyber-actor”, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday.
Morrison, speaking to the media in Canberra, would not name the state.
“This activity is targeting Australian organisations across a range of sectors, including all levels of government, industry, political organisations, education, health, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure,” he added.
Although the threat was constant, the frequency of attacks had increased “over many months,” Morrison said, urging all organisations to ensure their systems were protected.
“The big question is who is behind this attack,” Al Jazeera’s Nicola Gage said from Canberra. “Scott Morrison was very coy and said he would not be talking about that in public, although he went on to say that there were not many states that have the capability to do this.”
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 the source of that attack, and China denied it was responsible.
A US security ally, Australia’s ties with China, its largest trading partner, have become increasingly strained over the coronavirus, with Australia pushing for an international inquiry into the source and spread of the virus, which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.