Late Friday ANU announced it’s IT system had been hacked, and that it “has been working to contain a threat” to IT within the university.
“The university has been working in partnership with Australian Government agencies for several months to minimise the impact of this threat. we continue to seek and take advice from Australian government agencies. Current assessments indicate no staff, student or research information has been taken and counter-measures are being undertaken.”
In the absence of information of the who/what/where/when/why kind social, print and broadcast media filled the vacuum with speculation, generally and without any apparent evidence focusing on the Chinese Government or agents of it and assuming that Australian state secrets are at risk.
This could be a very big deal, a serious cyber-warfare campaign by a foreign power, or no deal at all, the result of free-lancing by aspiring spooks having a looksee. The federal government’s Australian Cyber Security Centre makes no mention of anything wrong at ANU, which could be indicative of either alternative. (The most recent university relevant ACSC statement was on June 18, about the PageUp site hack, CMM June 18). Although, ACSS head Alastair McGibbon was on Sky News yesterday acknowledging the hack but carefully adding not much.
The last universities hacked story was in March when US authorities warned Australian institutions were among those attacked by Iranian cyber-crooks. The University of Queensland said it had been, but told CMM there was not much to worry about, that they had seen off the intruders who were trying to access research journals, (CMM March 29 CMM March 29).