June 29, 2020 / 10:20 PM / a month ago

Australia to invest more in cyber security, hire specialists

SYDNEY, June 30 (Reuters) - Australia will invest A$1.35 billion ($926.10 million) in cyber security, including recruiting more specialists, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday, amid an increasing wave of hacking attempts against the country.

Morrison said malicious cyber activity against Australia was increasing in frequency, scale and sophistication.

“The federal government’s top priority is protecting our nation’s economy, national security and sovereignty. Malicious cyber activity undermines that,” the prime minister said in a statement.

The package will include A$470 million to hire an extra 500 cyber security experts in the Australian Signals Directorate, which intercepts electronic communications from foreign countries.

The funding, which will be spread over the next decade, is part of a A$15 billion investment in cyber warfare capabilities that will form part of the country’s 2020 defence plan, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said.

Australia early this month said a “sophisticated state-based actor” had spent months trying to hack all levels of the government, political bodies, essential service providers and operators of critical infrastructure.

Although Australia had declined to say who it believed was responsible FOR the attacks, three sources briefed on the matter told Reuters the country believed China was responsible, a suggestion swiftly dismissed by Beijing.

Australian intelligence has flagged similarities between the recent attacks and a cyber attack on parliament and the three largest political parties in March 2019.

Last year, Reuters reported that Australia had quietly concluded China was responsible for that cyber-attack.

$1 = 1.4577 Australian dollars Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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