Australia to warn of rise in cyber attacks on key infrastructure

Sydney, Australia, Oct 22 (efe-epa).- Amid a rise in cyber attacks on key infrastructure in Australia, those on the energy sector could cause “widespread failure” of the electricity grid with catastrophic consequences, the country’s interior minister was expected to warn Thursday.

“We are continuing to see an increase in attacks targeting infrastructure and systems that are essential to our way of life,” Peter Dutton was expected to say at a National Security Summit organized by the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers.

The politician was to warn that these incidents could lead to “catastrophic” consequences, disrupting hospitals, transport, banking and food supplies, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

While the minister would not mention any specific nation, the authorities are investigating several incidents of alleged foreign interference or cyber attacks against government and universities, which are suspected to come from China, although the Asian giant denies this.

The government is looking to require owners and operators of critical infrastructure to share the details of their networks, so that in the case of a large-scale attack, it can declare an emergency and give intelligence agencies the power to protect the infrastructure, according to the expected speech quoted by the outlet.

“While private industry has obligations to protect critical infrastructure, some threats are too sophisticated or disruptive to be handled alone,” Dutton was to say. “And so the government will provide assistance in response to immediate and serious cyber attacks on Australian systems. We will provide support to those companies.”

Australia, along with its partners from the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance, which also includes the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, this month with Japan and India signed a statement urging technology companies to agree on a way for intelligence agencies to access end-to-end encrypted messages, such as those in WhatsApp, Facebook’s Messenger and Instagram.

The head of the Australian spy agency, Michael Burgess, warned on Tuesday that unidentified nations seek to steal state secrets, manipulate government decision-making and try to “deceptively cultivate politicians at all levels” of government to promote the interests of foreign countries. EFE-EPA


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