Officials at Australia’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), confirmed that its computer networks have been hacked, with some reportedly infected by Chinese-developed malicious software aimed at revealing sensitive information. The news highlights a risk issue of increasing concern to both financial and non-financial institutions alike.
The RBA’s announcement followed investigations by ‘The Australian Financial Review’, which reported that multiple computers had been compromised by malware. According to the newspaper, one such attack involving a Chinese-developed malware spy programme targeted at sensitive negotiations in 2011 by the Group of 20 (G20) major economic powers, where Beijing’s exchange rate and currency reserves were among the items for discussion.
A statement released by the RBA stressed that the bank took cyber security and its potential consequences extremely seriously. “The bank has comprehensive security arrangements in place which have isolated these attacks and ensured that viruses have not been spread across the bank’s network or systems,” it said.
“At no point have these attacks caused the bank’s data or information to be lost or its systems to be corrupted. The Bank’s IT systems operate safely, securely and with a high degree of resilience.”
An Agence France-Presse (AFP) report quoted an Australian defence department official, who told APF that the “targeting of high-profile events, such as the G20, by state-sponsored adversaries, cyber-criminals and issue-motivated groups is a real and persistent threat.
“At least 65% of cyber intrusions on Australian computers have an economic focus,” the official added. “Cyber intruders are looking for information on Australia’s business dealings, intellectual property, scientific data and the government’s intentions.”
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