On Wednesday, it was reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that a major cyber-attack carried out against the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia is now being blamed on China. This attack could have compromised sensitive information concerning national security. One of the largest supercomputers in Australia belongs to the Bureau of Meteorology and the attack, which according to ABC’s report occurred recently, may have given the hackers the ability of taking advantage of the linked network to gain access to the Department of Defense of the country. Several unidentified sources were cited by the ABC who had knowledge about the huge breach and they had laid the blame at China’s doorstep.
In the past, China has also been levelled with the accusation of hacking the government computer systems of Australia in order to gain access to sensitive and confidential information. In a statement posted on the Bureau of Meteorology, it said that they weren’t going to make any comments regarding a security issue, but they were fully cooperating and working together with security agencies. It also highlighted that its computer systems were completely functional and operational. No comment was made by the Australian Federal police regarding this matter.
In a statement, the Department of Defense said that they were prevented by policy from making comments about certain incidents concerned with cyber security. The accusation was dismissed by the Chinese Foreign Ministry and it asserted that cyber-attacks were against the government’s principles. It also claimed that dialogue should be strengthened between all parties for resolving the problem and treating each other with respect. Hua Chunying, the ministry spokeswoman said at a regular briefing that it was not constructive to make speculate and make groundless accusation. It has almost become the norm to accuse China of infiltrating online businesses for getting some competitive advantage.
The country has, at its disposal, considerable computing resources and is also known for taking advantage of them to conduct cyber espionage. The Chinese hackers had been blamed in June by the US government of compromising the records of about four million employees of its employees, which included both former and current ones. The US comments had been declared irresponsible by China whereas Barack Obama, the US president had vowed that they would bolster their cyber defenses aggressively to prevent any such attacks in the future. Australia’s top trading partner is China and in 2013, there was two-way trade worth $110 billion.
In 2014, the two countries had also signed a landmark agreement, which is aimed at boosting commercial ties in the future. China’s help is of the utmost importance to Australia as the latter is attempting to reduce its dependence on exports of minerals like iron ore and coal to expand its agricultural and food exports to the Asian middle class that’s on the rise. Hence, the country is after a ‘dining boom’ as it has already experienced a ‘mining boom’. However, sensitive deals haven’t been made with Chinese firms in the past because of security concerns.