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Aust authorities warn on cyber security

AAP logoAAP 11/10/2016 Roje Adaimy

The Australian government warns the prospect of terrorists launching a significant cyber attack on one of its secure networks is real and serious.

A new report by the Australian Cyber Security Centre ranks the current threat level as low, with terrorist groups more likely to embarrass governments and exploit the internet for propaganda purposes.

But it predicts that within three years, they could have the ability to compromise a secure network with "disruptive and destructive effect".

"Of course they're developing their wherewithal when it comes to this area and they're looking to see 'ok, can we use cyber as an offensive weapon?'," Dan Tehan, the minister assisting the prime minister for cyber security, said.

"The real danger is if they're able to recruit and get the right people, then they will be able to use cyber as an offensive weapon and that's what we've got to be aware of."

The 2016 Threat Report, released on Wednesday, said foreign states represented the greatest level of threat to Australian government networks.

It revealed that last year's cyber attack on the Bureau of Meteorology was the work of a foreign intelligence service, which managed to install malicious software and steal sensitive documents.

Mr Tehan wouldn't specify which country, but said it showed cyber espionage was alive and well.

"We have to make sure that we're taking all the steps necessary to keep us safe, because the threat is there and the threat is real," he said.

The prime minister's special adviser on cyber security, Alastair MacGibbon, hopes sharing details of the breach will increase public awareness of cyber threats.

"Until we talk about it, like any other social problem, we will never get to the right solutions," he told ABC TV.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor was committed to working constructively with the government, its agencies and authorities to improving cyber security.

"I do not for one moment underestimate the cyber threat to the security of government agencies and others," he told reporters.

"Australia is a great country, we do a lot of things that other people are jealous of and would like to be like us so cyber security is absolutely an appropriate national priority for this parliament and for Labor to work with the Liberals."

The report said there were 1095 serious cyber security incidents on government systems in the 18 months to June 30.

A total of 14,804 incidents affecting Australian businesses - 418 of which involved systems of national interest - were reported between July 2015 and June this year.

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