Australia Attributes Cyber Attacks

The biggest story this last week is undoubtedly Australia joining with international partners to attribute the source of ongoing cyber attacks to steal intellectual property. 

In a press release,  the Hon Marise Payne expressed “serious concern about a global campaign of cyber-enabled commercial intellectual property theft by a group known as APT10, acting on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of State Security.”

This is a significant change of rhetoric for the Australian Government who have previously opted to provide advisory notices rather than attributing cyber attacks. This changed in April of this year when Australia joined with allies from the US and Great Britain in blaming Russian state-sponsored actors for compromising network infrastructure for espionage activity.

Attributing cyber attacks is an important aspect of the rules based order supported by the Tallinn Manual.

When it is in our interests to do so, Australia publicly attributes cyber incidents, especially those with the potential to undermine global economic growth, national security and international stability.” The Senator said in her statement.

While no specific businesses have been mentioned in this latest attribution theories are emerging. Discussions within the Cyber community have already exposed anecdotally the growing number of technical faults with critical infrastructure ranging from banking, point of sale, telecommunications and the energy sector all causing downtime for civilians.

The energy sector is among critical infrastructure that is particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks. Image credit: Tennessee Valley Authority CC BY 2.0

Industries have started to respond with the energy sector in Australia developing a grid wide cyber security program.

What is more interesting is the Australian Army has also changed rhetoric and announced the beginning of a concerted push towards requiring Cyber specialists who have offensive capabilities.

In a bid to encourage a rethink of recruitment requirements, Major General Fergus McLachlan was quoted as saying the army wanted recruits who “can do something in cyberspace to turn off an enemy’s weapon system without even getting out of a chair.” While the article discussed the change in recruitment fitness standards that may be required to achieve this it indicates a significant change from the purely defensive capabilities being discussed from the West in open forums.

It is safe to say the next war is upon us and it is being waged openly from behind keyboards.

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