Australian Bureau of Meteorology Hacked, China Blamed

Australian media is reporting a major cyber-attack against Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology that is likely to have compromised sensitive security information. China is being blamed for the attack.

As the owner and operator of one of Australia’s largest supercomputers, The Bureau of Meteorology has suffered a cyber attack in recent days, reports Reuters. Several official sources have confirmed the attack and told a local Australian publication that it will cost millions to plug the security hole with other national agencies also being affected.

Citing the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the publication notes several unidentified sources with insider knowledge of the breach while placing the blame squarely on China.

An ABC source was quoted as saying: “It’s China.”

Through a statement on its website, the Bureau of Meteorology stated that while it did not comment on security matters, it was working closely with security agencies in recent days. Furthermore, the Bureau also confirmed that all its computer systems were operational.

Other agencies did not shed much information into the incident either. The Australian Federal Police declined to comment on the cyber-attack, according to Reuters. So too did the Department of Defence which put out a statement noting that it was barred by policy from commenting on any specific security or cybersecurity incidents.

Related article: NSA Report: China Successfully Hacked 600+ American Targets in 5 Years

In recent times, China has become Australia’s biggest trading partner with a bi-lateral trade deal of about AUSD $150 billion (USD $110 billion) as recently as 2013. A significant free trade agreement was also signed the following year in 2014 to spur commercial ties between the two countries. For instance, Australia is relying on China to transition from a minerals exporter to one that also exports food and agricultural products to the Asian nation of nearly 1.5 billion people.

However, China’s reputation of security has cost the country’s firms with significant deals in the past. A significant example would be the decision to ban Huawei, a major Chinese hardware and technology giant from bidding on the National Broadband Network in Australia. The deal was worth tens of billions of dollars and represents a missed opportunity for the Chinese company because of security concerns.