Authorities Investigating Potential Cyberattack on Australian Parliament

March 28, 2021 Updated: March 28, 2021

Australia’s leading cybersecurity body is investigating a major disruption that saw Parliament’s email network shut down.

It comes after media conglomerate Nine Network confirmed it was targeted in a cyberattack over the weekend.

Assistant Defence Minister Andrew Hastie said the issue was linked to an external service provider to the Department of Parliamentary Services’ (DPS) email network. The connection to government services was severed immediately as a precaution.

“The government acted quickly, and we have the best minds in the world working to ensure Australia remains the most secure place to operate online,” Hastie said in a statement issued on Sunday.

Hastie said the situation was a “timely reminder” for Australians not to be complacent on cybersecurity.

Epoch Times Photo
Andrew Hastie during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra on Nov. 27, 2019. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

“It is vital that Australian businesses and organisations are alert to this threat and take the necessary steps to ensure our digital sovereignty,” he said.

“Cybersecurity is a team effort and a shared responsibility.”

The disruption comes just hours after Nine Network revealed that it could not air its Weekend Today and Sunday Sports programs on Sunday, revealing that a cyberattack on its systems caused the outage.

Vanessa Morley, director of people and culture, instructed all employees to work from home until further notice.

“Our IT teams are working around the clock to fully restore our systems which have primarily affected our broadcast and corporate business units,” she wrote in a letter to staff.

“Publishing and radio systems continue to be operational.”

Last year, cybersecurity was elevated to national attention after Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed the country was under “sustained attack” from a “sophisticated state-based cyber actor.”

While the prime minister refused to reveal which country was the culprit, experts believe the most likely suspect was the CCP. These attacks have been ongoing, with Parliament and Australian universities suffering multiple outages and cyberattacks in recent years.

In response, the government has launched public awareness campaigns and pledged $1.67 billion (U.S. $1.2 billion) over the next ten years to shore about the nation’s cyber defences.