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Foreign Spies Responsible For Hacking Australia Weather Bureau

An official report has concluded that foreign spies were behind a cyber attack on the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s computer system.

The report provides new details on the 2015 attack on the BoM, which owns one of Australia’s largest supercomputers.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp previously quoted officials blaming China for the hack, which China denied. The weather bureau produces scientific research information which is valuable to other countries. Among other services, it gives climate information to commercial airlines and shipping, analyses national water supplies, gathers climate data and works closely with the defence department.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre report says that suspicious activity was detected from two computers on the bureau’s IT network last year.
Investigations found the presence of malware “popular with state-sponsored cyber adversaries, amongst other malware associated with cybercrime”. The same “Remote Access Tool” (RAT) malware had also been used to compromise other Australian government networks, said the report.

The ACSC said the malware was linked to “a foreign intelligence service” and that security controls “were insufficient to protect the network from more common threats associated with cybercrime”. It said the hackers had been “searching for and copying an unknown quantity of documents from the bureau’s network”. The report did specify which country it believed was responsible.

Unnamed sources have previously told ABC that China was behind the hack, but China said the accusations were “groundless” and “not constructive”. China has repeatedly been accused of using cyber-attacks to spy on foreign states and companies. But its officials routinely deny this, and say China is itself a victim of hacking.