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Hackers from China have successfully infiltrated the IT systems at the Australian National University, potentially compromising the home of Australia’s leading national security college and key defense research projects. The ANU conducts research that has defense, strategic, scientific, technological and commercial applications.
National security sources said the Chinese government was suspected of directing the cyber attack, but proving this may be difficult because hackers typically aim to hide their tracks. However, it has been confirmed by federal government officials that the cyber attack was launched from China and that the ANU computer network was significantly compromised.
The ANU hosts the National Security College, which trains Australian defense and intelligence officials and often hosts meetings with senior national security officials in a secure room regularly swept for listening devices by ASIO, according to smh.com.au.
The university spokesperson announced they have been working in partnership with Australian Government agencies for several months to minimize the impact of the threat.
Alex Joske, a China researcher for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre, said the cyber attack was a major wake-up call. “ANU has involvement in important Australian government projects. This hack might have been aiming to steal information for commercial gain or for strategic or technological gain for the Chinese military,” Mr. Joske said. “There has been a lack of caution on the part of Australian universities in their dealings with China. Australian universities need to keep working closely with the Australian government on cyber policy.”