Australian military network faces rising cyber attacks

Friday, October 8, 2010

MELBOURNE - Rising cyber attacks by foreign intelligence agencies have besieged the Australian military network which faces on an average 700 attacks in a month, the country’s top spy unit has said.

There has been a wealth of evidence to indicate dozens of countries are prying online for each other’s secrets. In 2010 there were 700 attempts a month to access the military’s secure systems, up from 200 a month lastyear, the Defence Signals Directorate has said.

According to The Age, the figures were gathered by the Cyber Security Operations Centre, an elite unit within the directorate which was set up to confront the cyber threat.

The directorate has found 5,551 incidents of malicious activities between January and August this year - an average of 700 a month, up 250 percent from last year.

While the Defence said no “operations” had been disrupted by the intrusions, it would not comment on whether information had been stolen or say who was behind the probes.

“The very nature of the internet makes it difficult to attribute malicious activity to particular sources,” a spokesman said.

“(However) it is reasonable to assume that intelligence services of foreign governments would seek to exploit the ubiquity of internet connectivity.”

Several countries have shown willingness to use the web for espionage, and in recent years China, Russia and North Korea have all become adept in the cyber environment, the paper said.

While the Defence noted some of the rise could be attributable to increased cyber security awareness and the directorate’s increased ability to detect cyber threats, the rise is also due to an increase in malicious activity.

The Defence employs more than 180 experts to maintain its top secret, restricted and unclassified military networks. The system they protect - excluding top secret networks - host about 106,000 computers over 300 Australian websites and 12 overseas sites.

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