Australia acts on hacking threat –

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MALCOLM Turnbull has defended his decision to publicly announce Australian political leaders would be briefed on cyber threats, saying hacking is the ‘new frontier of warfare’.

This morning it was revealed political leaders would be briefed on the threat of cybersecurity attacks — and how to protect against them — after hacking claims rocked the US election.

Intelligence agency the Australian Signals Directorate will brief all political party bosses on the threats they are facing and how to protect against them when parliament resumes.

Last week it was reported Christian Porter, Chris Bowen and Cory Bernardi were among the victims of a internet security breach.

After receiving a briefing on the threats today, Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra today cyber security was now at the forefront of efforts to keep Australia safe.

“This is the new frontier of warfare, it is the new frontier of espionage and the new frontier of many threats to Australian families, to Governments, to businesses,” Mr Turnbull said.

The Prime Minister defended his decision to announce the briefings, saying it was now acknowledged that there had been Russian efforts to influence the recent American election.

When asked whether there needed more infrastructure or investment to defend against cyber attacks against MPs, he said politicians just needed better digital practices.

“Most of the vulnerabilities are a consequence of the warm-ware, the humans failing to protect themselves — opening an attachment to an email that contains phishing malware for example, something of that kind,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Most people are aware of it but not sufficiently aware.”

He said he was not aware of any recent attempts by a foreign country to influence an Australian election.

Earlier, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Cyber Security Dan Tehan said cyber security would be at the forefront of the Turnbull Government’s national security agenda this year.

media_cameraAllegations that Russian hackers leaked private emails of Democratic Party members during the US Presidential elections prompted the PM to ask intelligence agencies to hold the briefings. Picture: Sergei Ilnitsky/ AP

Mr Tehan and Mr Turnbull will attend a high-level briefing today ahead of the classified briefing that will be offered to the leaders of the Australian Labor Party, the Greens, Pauline Hanson and Nick Xenophon in coming weeks, The Australian reports.

“We have to make sure we’re protecting our democracy, that’s what this is about,” Mr Tehan told 2GB radio this morning.

media_cameraHacking claims rocked the US election. Picture: AFP photo/ Win McNamee

“The Prime Minister is going to make sure all political parties, all political organisations are aware of the threat, so that they can do what they need to do to protect themselves to make sure our democracy continues to function unhindered by the influence of outside actors.”

Allegations that Russian hackers had leaked private emails from members of the Democratic Party to influence the US Presidential elections had prompted the Prime Minister to ask intelligence agencies to hold the briefings.

media_cameraPrime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has directed the Australian Signals Directorate to brief all political party bosses on cyber threats. Picture: Mark Evans

“The danger here is that the technology changes so rapidly and so quickly that you always have to be changing what you’re doing to protect yourself,” Mr Tehan said.

“As soon as you stand still in this area you’re going backwards.

“We’ve got to make sure we continue to evolve with the technological changes.”

Cyber security will also be included in bilateral security talks with Indonesia for the first time when Mr Tehan, Attorney-General ­George Brandis and Justice Minister Michael Keenan meet with Indonesian officials early next month.

media_cameraFederal opposition leader Bill Shorten will be brief alongside Pauline Hanson and Nick Xenophon. Picture: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Originally published as ‘This is the new frontier of warfare’


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