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Who a cyber security expert thinks is behind the ‘malicious’ cyber attack targeting Australia

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned a “sophisticated state-based cyber actor” is actively targeting Australian organisations on a massive scale.

All levels of government, industry, political organisations, education, health and essential service providers are among those targeted in the “malicious” attack.

“There is no doubt that malicious cyber activity is increasing,” Mr Morrison said while announcing the attack.

The Prime Minister refused to name the state behind the attack, but said there are only a few nations with the “very significant abilities” required to carry out such a cyber attack.

Director of the NSW Canberra Cyber Centre, Nigel Phair, said there are four possible attackers.

“We can probably narrow it down to four jurisdictions: China, Russia, North Korea and Iran,” he told Neil Mitchell.

“(They) have not just the capability but the intent to do this type of attack.”

Mr Phair said the state actor involved is likely to be trying to gain access to intellectual property and “trade secrets and negotiations” which they can use to gain an advantage in international negotiations.

He says the Prime Minister’s announcement is “a wake up call”.

“I think he did it more as a wake up call to organisations of all shapes and sizes, government of all tiers, particularly state and local government,” he said.

“This is the new age we live in.”

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