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Hackers corrupt satellite company IT

AAP logoAAP 29/08/2016

A small Australian satellite company had its computer systems so comprehensively hacked that experts described their network as the most corrupted they'd ever seen.

As well, hackers, likely Chinese, had targeted the Defence Science and Technology Organisation and the Bureau of Meteorology, the ABC Four Corners program has reported.

The real target of the Bureau of Meteorology hack was thought to be the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation which supports defence operations through provision of satellite and other imagery, it said.

The firm Newsat, which planned to launch two Australian satellites and build an Australian satellite industry, attracted the attention of foreign hackers, with the Australian Signals Directorate breaking the bad news to company executives.

"Our network was, as far as they could see, the most corrupted they'd seen. Period," the company's former chief financial officer Michael Hewins told Four Corners.

Former Newsat IT manager Daryl Peter said the intruders had been inside their network for maybe two years, which was like someone looking over their shoulder for everything they did.

"Newsat had been hacked and not just by teenagers in the basement or anything like that. Whoever was hacking us was very well-funded, very professional, very serious hackers."

A year ago Newsat called in the liquidators and sold off its remaining assets.

Although China is alleged to be responsible for much hacking, Australian officials won't point the finger.

"It's not useful for us to talk about any particular nation states," said Alastair MacGibbon, special adviser on cyber security to the prime minister.

A recent cybercrime victim was the Australian Bureau of Statistics which came under attack on census night, prompting it to close down the census.

Mr MacGibbon said that was a denial of service attack which was certainly not of the scale or sophistication that should have caused any significant problems.

He said that attack was easily predictable and should have been prevented.

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