Australia warns of state-backed Chinese hackers

Australia warns of state-backed Chinese hackers
Australia warns of state-backed Chinese hackers

Australia’s cyber intelligence agency warned Tuesday of a growing threat from state-backed Chinese hackers, saying they were “actively” seeking targets to compromise.

The Australian Signals Directorate has cited the APT40 hacking group in a technical note detailing its methods.

“APT40 has repeatedly attacked Australian networks as well as government and private sector networks in the region, and its threat is ongoing,” the statement said.

The agency said APT40 — Advanced Persistent Threat — conducted “malicious cyber operations” for an arm of China’s Ministry of State Security based in Hainan Province.

He added that APT40 sought to infiltrate old, forgotten computers that were still connected to important computer networks.

By using these computers as an “entry point,” they were able to “quickly” exploit vulnerabilities and steal information.

“APT40 actively conducts frequent reconnaissance actions of significant networks in Australia in search of opportunities to compromise their targets,” the directorate said.

Attributing complex cyberattacks to the group responsible is technically and politically difficult, and risks angering China.

“In our current strategic circumstances, these capabilities are increasingly important tools to prevent malicious cyber activity,” said Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles.

The management note was prepared with input from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, South Korea and other international partners.



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