Australia’s Assistant Minister for Defense Andrew Hastie said on Sunday that the government cut access to the Parliament’s IT and email services in a bid to thwart a cyber-attack incoming from a foreign actor.
The parliamentary IT system went down on Saturday. For over 30 hours there was limited or no access to IT and mobile devices. The outage took place around the same time the Nine TV Network’s IT system was crashed.
“The issue relates to an external provider, and once the issue was detected the connection to government systems was cut immediately as a precaution,” Hastie said, as quoted by the News.com.au portal.
The media outlet learned from government sources that the attack might have come from abroad, possibly from China.
The Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) has confirmed in an email to the staff that the issue was being investigated.
“An ICT outage is currently affecting various ICT services including email, calendar and contacts on smartphones and tablets,’’ the DPS statement read, as cited by the news portal.
Earlier in the day, Australia’s TV Blackbox television information website reported that hackers allegedly brought down the Nine Network, wiping out its morning live shows.
On Sunday morning, Channel Nine was unable to air its live shows from its Sydney headquarters, reporting “technical issues.” Though the network described the problem as such, entertainment reporter Peter Ford tweeted, citing sources, that the breakdown was being investigated as a possible cyberattack.
The TV Blackbox website claims that security experts told the network “the attack is likely from Russia due to the sophistication of the hack.”
The alleged hackers reportedly sought to stop Monday’s episode of Under Investigation from going to air, as the program was meant to focus on the Russian leadership’s alleged use of chemical weapons against political opponents.
Russia has repeatedly refuted its involvement in both cyber and chemical attacks, recalling that it completed verified destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile in 2017.