At a glance.
- Australia’s continued response to recent wave of cyber incidents.
- Is China’s cyber strategy really about community control?
Australia’s continued response to recent wave of cyber incidents.
The recent surge in cyberattacks in Australia has the government, as well as its citizens, focused on improving the nation’s cyberdefenses. Over the weekend, Minister for Cyber Security Clare O'Neil announced that a first-of-its-kind task force would work to “hack the hackers” responsible for the massive recent data breach at Medibank, Australia’s largest insurance provider. A joint collaboration between Australian Federal Police and the Australian Signals Directorate, the team of one hundred operatives will hunt down cybercriminals by using their own tactics against them. However, as the Conversation notes, the key to ensuring the task force meets its goals will be determining exactly which hackers are behind an attack, and this is no easy task. While cyber experts have attributed the Medibank breach to Russian-based threat actors, most likely associated with the REvil cyber gang based on similarities to the threat group’s previous attacks, cybercriminals have been known to obscure their identities by routing through third parties.
Meanwhile, researchers at Flinders University have found that consumers want to play a larger role when it comes to improving Australian systems’ resilience, Techxplore reports. The researchers asked 1,500 Australian citizens about attitudes to institutional trust, understanding of resilience, digital literacy, and perceptions of cyber threats, and the results show that while respondents want the public and private sectors to be more vigilant in protecting their data, they lacked confidence in the country’s abilities to defend its systems. Flinders University researcher Dr. Josh Holloway explained, "Not only are these citizens concerned about the technological capabilities of government—often citing poor experiences using online government services—but they also showed doubts about investment in skills and commitments to cybersecurity among businesses…Quite reasonably, they tended to have little awareness of which public institutions and authorities are taking leadership in managing cyber threats and, collectively, expressed broad skepticism of social media and tech companies, media organizations, the federal government and public service generally."
Is China’s cyber strategy really about community control?
The National Interest explores China’s focus on becoming a cyber superpower, and the motivations behind it. Earlier this month the Chinese State Council of Information Office published a white paper titled “Jointly Build a Community With a Shared Future in Cyberspace,” in which the authors emphasized that “the threat of cyber-hegemonism” -- the fact that certain states can employ technology to conduct large-scale cyber-surveillance or interfere in other nations' internal affairs -- poses a threat to the regime.
The report discusses the Chinese government’s efforts to control cyberspace policy narratives by controlling citizens’ access to the internet. The number of internet users in China jumped by 35.9 million over the past year, allowing increased access for online public discourse, which could interfere with the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) control over that discourse. In his speech at the National Cybersecurity and Informatization Work Conference in 2018, President Xi Jinping stressed that “we can absolutely not let the internet become a platform for the dissemination of harmful information, or a place where rumors spread that create trouble.” The 2022 white paper reveals that the Chinese government called for international cooperation under the name of “a community with a shared future in cyberspace.” Peking University's Yuwen Li, says this implies the CCP’s aims to merge Chinese cultural ideas with global governance. However, Western experts argue that the use of the term “community” could be the Chinese government’s attempt to assert greater control over its citizens.