Cyber attack on Australia: The Army's information has been stolen

Hacker group codenamed 'Alf' after famous Home and Away character steals sensitive information about Australia's multi-billion dollar fighter jet program

Some 30GB of "sensitive data" subjected to restricted access under the United States government's International Traffic in Arms Regulations rules was stolen, ASD's Mr Mitchell Clarke told a security conference Wednesday according to ZDNet.

ASD incident response manager Mitchell Clarke told a conference in Sydney on Wednesday the hackers targeted a small "mum and dad type business" - an aerospace engineering company with about 50 employees in July previous year.

At the moment, QinetiQ Australia has 350 specialist staff located across Australia who use their know-how to deliver value solutions to Australian defence and government organisations across air, land, sea and information domains as well as the rail and mining industries.

Defence industry minister Christopher Pyne told the ABC on Thursday he does not know who the hacker is and indicated he would not tell if he knew, "It could be a state actor, a non-state actor".

"It could have been a state actor, it could have been cyber criminals, and that's why it was taken so seriously".

"It could be someone who was working for another company".

While talking to the Australian Broadcasting Corp, Mr. Pyne said that he had been assured the stolen information was not a risk to national security.

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The Australian defence ministry is trying to downplay the 2016 hacking of a contractor that exposed data about Australia's Joint Strike Fighter programme.

"Analysis showed that the malicious actor gained access to the victim's network by exploiting an internet or public-facing server, which they accessed using administrative credentials", Tehan said.

Australia experienced 47,000 cyber security incidents over the year to June 30, half of which involved online scams or fraud, according to the Australian Cyber Security Centre's 2017 Threat Report. The incident, Pyne concluded, was a "salutary reminder" about cyber security.

BuzzFeed News has obtained the audio of the presentation from reporter Stilgherrian, and in his presentation Clarke said the aerospace engineering firm in question had around 50 employees with just one IT person, and a "significant amount of data" was stolen over a period of around three months by the Alf hacker, which the ASD called "Alf's Mystery Happy Fun Time".

The admin password, to enter the company's web portal, was "admin" and the guest password was "guest".

"This is a classic example of where rigid security, tied into an infrastructure that extends beyond the organisation - i.e. the Australian government - has led to weakened cyber security".

That attack stole classified information about a top-secret weapons system, and US Deputy Defence Secretary William Lynn at the time blamed a foreign intelligence agency for the attack. "Which means that, in the inevitability of a breach occurring, the data to which hackers can gain access is constrained".

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