Australia joins UK in calling out Russia over international cyber attacks

By @chelean on
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Australia has joined the UK and other international partners in condemning cyber attacks from Russia. Creative Commons

Australia has joined the UK and other international partners in condemning cyber attacks from Russia. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country’s own intelligence agencies have come to the same conclusion that the Russian military intelligence unit, the GRU, was responsible for the cyber attacks around the world.

In a joint statement with Foreign Affair Minister Marise Payne on Thursday, Morrison condemned Russia’s “pattern of malicious cyber activity.” The Australian government reached the conclusion that it was Russia behind the attacks based on the advice from national intelligence agencies and in consultation with Australia’s partners and allies.

“While Australia was not significantly impacted, this activity affected the ability of the public in other parts of the world to go about their daily lives. It caused significant, indiscriminate harm to civilian infrastructure and resulted in millions of dollars in economic damage, including in Russia,” the statement reads.

“This is unacceptable, and the Australian Government calls on all countries, including Russia, to refrain from these types of malicious activities. Cyberspace is not the Wild West. The International Community — including Russia — has agreed that international law and norms of responsible state behavior apply in cyberspace.”

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has identified GRU operatives as responsible for several high-profile computer attacks. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Thursday that the Russian military intelligence conducted a campaign of “indiscriminate and reckless” online attacks targeting different countries.

“This pattern of behaviour demonstrates their desire to operate without regard to international law or established norms and to do so with a feeling of impunity and without consequences,” Hunt said.

“Our message is clear: Together with our allies, we will expose and respond to the GRU’s attempts to undermine international stability.”

Australia also has a clear message for the GRU.

“Our message is clear: The rule of law applies online, just as it does offline. We will protect the rules-based international order online, just as we do offline,” Morrison said.

The malicious cyber activities Australia attributes to the Russian military include the BadRabbit ransomware infected victims in Ukraine and Russia in October 2017, the releasing of confidential medical data of international athletes in August 2016, the US Democratic National Committee hacking in 2016, and the accessing of multiple email accounts of UK-based TV station between July and August 2015.

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