SYDNEY, April 28 A cyber attack on the
Australian parliamentary computer network in 2011 may have given
Chinese intelligence agencies access to lawmakers' private
emails for an entire year, the Australian Financial Review
reported on Monday.
The newspaper, citing government and security sources, said
new information showed the attack had been more extensive than
previously thought and "effectively gave them control of" the
"It was like an open-cut mine. They had access to
everything," a source told the newspaper.
Australian officials, like those in the United States and
other Western nations, have made cyber security a priority
following a growing number of attacks.
The parliamentary computer network is a non-classified
internal system used by federal lawmakers, their staff and
advisers for private communications and discussions of strategy.
While inside the system, hackers would have had access to
emails, contact databases and any other documents stored on the
network, the report said.
The access would have allowed China to gain a sophisticated
understanding of the political, professional and social links of
the Australian leadership and could have included sensitive
discussions between lawmakers and their staff.
Domestic media initially reported on the breach in 2011,
although it was believed at the time that Chinese agents had
only accessed the system for about a month.
Last year, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported
that Chinese hackers had stolen the blueprints of a new
multi-million-dollar Australian spy headquarters, as well as
confidential information from the Department of Foreign Affairs
Prime Minister Tony Abbott's government upheld a ban on
China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd from bidding for
work on the country's $38 billion National Broadband Network
(NBN) when it came to power last year, citing cyber security
(Reporting by Matt Siegel; Editing by Paul Tait)