Who’s been hit?

Australian manufacturers may… or may not… have been under cyber attack

23 June 2020 | Peter Roberts, AUManufacturing

On a day when the federal government announced some bad news for university students the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison called a press conference to denounce cyber attacks on Australia.

Manufacturers have been hit in recently weeks by crippling attacks that cut production.

First BlueScope Steel was forced to shut down some processes, and most recently it was dairy and brewer Lion that cut production and hence the beer taps began to run dry.

Politicians have perfected the art of announcing a distraction to cover bad news, and it just might have been the case when the PM said Australia was currently under cyber attack “targeted by a sophisticated state-based cyber actor”.

The implication of this was obviously China, but, no, the PM did not have any evidence that China was responsible.

Nor would he say that when he used the term ‘currently’ that he meant, well…now.

Asked at his media conference whether a particular cyber attack had sparked the need to hold a press conference on that day he said no.

So to get to the point – is China responsible for the recent attacks on manufacturers? No, the Prime Minister said these were not the attacks he was referring to.

Ignoring the facts: Murdoch Press was in no doubt about the source of the “unspecified” cyber attacks

What we did get out of the press conference that was useful was some updated advice from the Australian Cyber Security Centre which can be found here. This advice says that the attacks of late had software patches or mitigations already available.

So these weren’t attacks by some sophisticated state, just attacks from which manufacturers and others can easily protect themselves.

In all this one thing is clear – manufacturers need to make sure they are protected against malicious attack.

Peter Roberts is the editor of AuManufacturing News

Editor’s Note, APAC News contacted contacted several IT and computer network security experts, who were all of the opinion that the cyber-security issues raised by the government last Friday were well known risks within both government and industry. One said, “there’s nothing new in this announcement.”

A senior IT manager at one of Australia’s major financial institutions said, “We are under cyber attack 24 hours a day seven days a week. There is always somebody trying to breach our security and hack into our networks.” The manager added, “criminal hackers remain the biggest threat to industries but we are alert to all possibilities.”