Miners under cyber attack from everywhere | The Australian

MAJOR resources companies are coming under increasing threat of cyber hacking emanating from China and other countries, with outgoing Woodside Petroleum chief executive Don Voelte admitting the group has been attacked “from everywhere”.

Mr Voelte, who hands over to Exxon Mobil veteran Peter Coleman today after seven years as chief executive, said at The Australian Deutsche Bank Business Leaders Forum in Perth on Friday that cyber attacks were a major concern but were not just coming from China.

“Let’s not focus this on the Chinese: I saw the number of attacks against our company over a time period,” he said.

“It comes from everywhere. It comes from eastern Europe; it comes from Russia. Just don’t pick on the Chinese; it’s everywhere.”

The admission of concern comes weeks after federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland called a meeting with 20 chief executives from the big resources companies, banks and other sectors to discuss cyber attacks, which have emerged as a key security threat facing Australian business and government.It also follows recent cyber attacks on Japanese consumer tech company Sony and US defence giant Lockheed Martin.

Security experts say Chinese and other foreign hackers are looking for clues on government and business attitudes to major resource projects and foreign investment, as well as information on overseas activity by Australian companies.

It is believed most of the big resource companies have begun working closely with the federal government’s Defence Signals Directorate, the intelligence agency responsible for information security, in a bid to limit the attacks.

It is understood last month’s Sydney meeting was attended by representatives of BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Woodside, as well as other mining companies and the big banks.

Shell Australia chairman Ann Pickard agreed the attacks were a major concern.

“I would say we’re very careful in this particular area,” she said.

“The attacks on companies, and going after IP and other things, is pretty big, so we’re all very careful in this space.”

The rare comments from senior corporate leaders follow allegations raised last year in an ABC Four Corners program that China had hacked into the computer systems of BHP, Rio and Fortescue Metals Group.

The attacks against Rio came at about the time of the arrest of four of its executives in China, including Australian citizen Stern Hu, who was later jailed for 10 years on charges of bribery and stealing commercial secrets.

BHP is also believed to have come under attack during its attempted takeover of Rio, and Fortescue’s computer networks in the Pilbara and Perth have also been reportedly targeted.

The companies have refused to comment on the issue.

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett told the forum on Friday that his government was conscious of the threat, which often caused difficulties in communicating with resource companies.

“A lot of the matters that are discussed, particularly on major projects, if nothing else they’re market sensitive, so that always creates issues,” Mr Barnett said.

“And the companies are being careful on what they’ll talk to the government about and yet they have to because there is so much to be negotiated.”

But Mr Barnett agreed with Mr Voelte that it was wrong to single out China as being the only source of the attacks.

Chief executives who attended last month’s meeting on cyber security in Sydney received confidential briefings from the Office of National Assessments and the Defence Signals Directorate. .

They also held talks with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.

“Security agencies are finding malicious cyber activity is increasing to a point where systems in both government and the private sector are under continuous threat,” Mr McClelland said.

“The Australian government takes the issue of cyber security very seriously and is constantly strengthening cyber security measures.

“Part of this includes engaging with major companies and critical infrastructure organisations to ensure they’re aware of the extent of the threats, and have strong systems in place to deal with attacks.”

via Miners under cyber attack from everywhere | The Australian.

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About gatoMalo

I am a veteran served on the USS Saratoga. After the military I worked on computers for the last 30 or so years. I worked as a hardware, software, network, email, groupware developer and security dude. I am now an abuelo. I belive in guarding the guards. We are all citizen warriors for our country the 5th battlefield is Cyber Space so here I am. Later, quis custodiet ipsos custodes? View all posts by gatoMalo

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