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Australia Condemns 'Malicious' Russia Over Hacking

Australia has called out "malicious" cyber activity from Russia's military, backing British accusations that the government has targeted politics, business and media.

Britain's foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt accused Russia's military intelligence arm, the GRU, of an "indiscriminate and reckless" campaign on institutions worldwide.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison and foreign minister Marise Payne backed that claim later on Thursday. In a joint statement, the pair said that while Australia "was not significantly impacted" by alleged Russian activities, other nations had been "caused significant, indiscriminate harm" and been affected to the tune of millions of dollars.

"Based on advice from Australian intelligence agencies, and in consultation with our partners and allies, the Australian Government has determined that the Russian military, and their intelligence arm ‘the GRU’, is responsible for this pattern of malicious cyber activity," Morrison and Payne said.

"Cyberspace is not the Wild West. The International Community – including Russia – has agreed that international law and norms of responsible state behaviour apply in cyberspace."

"By embarking on a pattern of malicious cyber behaviour, Russia has shown a total disregard for the agreements it helped to negotiate."

(Getty Images)

Examples of "unacceptable malicious cyber activity"  attributed by Australia to the Russian military included:

  • The 2016 hack of the US Democratic National Committee;
  • The BadRabbit ransomware incident of October 2017, which infected business, energy and transport sectors in Ukraine and Russia;
  • The hack and leaking of medical files of international athletes in August 2016, which the World Anti-Doping Agency claimed came from its Anti-Doping Administration;
  • The unauthorised access of emails of a British television station in 2015

Morrison and Payne said it as necessary to "protect" global interests from such activity.

"A first step is to attribute malicious behaviour publicly – as we are doing today. Our message is clear: the rule of law applies online, just as it does offline. We will protect the rules-based international order online, just as we do offline," they said.

"Australia is working with allies and partners to improve cooperative global responses to malicious cyber activity that undermines international security and global economic stability."