Reportedly, Australian intelligence found out that China was liable for a cyber-attack on its parliament and three major political parties prior to the general election in May, five sources having direct knowledge of the situation stated to Reuters. In March, Australia’s cyber intelligence agency—the ASD (Australian Signals Directorate)—stated that China’s MSS (Ministry of State Security) was in charge of the attack. The report—which also comprises input from the Department of Foreign Affairs—suggested keeping the findings undisclosed so as to avoid disrupting trade associations with Beijing. The Australian administration has not revealed who it believes was after the attack or any particulars of the report.
China’s Foreign Ministry denied its connection in any kind of hacking attacks and stated the internet was full of speculations that were hard to outline. In a statement to Reuters, the Ministry said, “When determining and investigating the nature of online events there must be evidence of the facts; otherwise it is just generating more rumors and maligning others, pinning tags on people aimlessly. We would like to say that China is also a sufferer of internet attacks. China expects that Australia can meet the Asian country halfway, and do more to promote mutual trust and cooperation amid the two countries.”
On a similar note, a spy chief stated that foreign interference and espionage is an “existential danger” to Australia. Australia’s outgoing spy chief asserted that foreign interference and malevolent state espionage poses an empirical threat to Australia in a sense that extremist violence does not. Duncan Lewis—Director-General of the ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation)—said that the three major “vectors” menacing Australia’s security—terrorism; espionage and foreign interference; and cybersecurity—the intrusion of hostile state actors raised the most serious threat.