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Cunning Chinese cyber spies have successfully infiltrated Australian computer systems in an attempt to steal sensitive information to aid Beijing in the militarization of the South China Sea.
The spies, affiliated with China’s Ministry of State Security, launched a fake media outlet to gather intelligence from Australian workers in the defence, health, energy and government sectors.
The Beijing scam began with a series of emails in the run-up to May’s federal election containing a message from a self-described “humble” digital new site called “Australian Morning News,” asking recipients to click a link that would infect their computers with malware and compromise their privacy.
Cunning Chinese cyber spies have successfully infiltrated Australian computer systems in an attempt to steal sensitive information to aid Beijing in the militarization of the South China Sea (stock image)
Pictured: Chinese navy sailors march in Tiananmen Square in October 2019
On closer inspection, the site had plagiarized articles, photos, and headlines from popular mastheads.
The domain name was first registered under the false name ‘Florence Gourley’ on April 8, 2022.
The hackers targeted Australia for three months leading up to the 2022 vote, breaking computers not only Down Under, but also in Europe and Malaysia.
However, US cybersecurity firm Proofpoint and PwC Threat Intelligence were able to identify the group, the Australian reports.
Sherrod DeGrippo, vice president of threat research and detection at Proofpoint, said the Red Ladon hackers were persistent
The government-backed cyber attackers were from a group called Red Ladon, or TA423, and were likely the same group of Chinese spies responsible for a similar attack on Australia two years ago.
Scott Morrison shocked the nation by outlining how unnamed “state actors” had targeted banks, universities, hospitals, transportation networks, power grids and the military, as part of a protracted cyber war campaign in June 2020.
Insiders at the time claimed the cyber invasion was a payback for Australia’s decision to ban Chinese state-owned Huawei from its national 5G network in 2018 over national security concerns.
Between April and June of this year, hackers also targeted companies involved in power generator operations in the South China Sea — where the authoritarian power is creating artificial islands in violation of international law.
Sherrod DeGrippo, vice president of threat research and detection at Proofpoint, said Red Ladon’s spies were particularly “sly and persistent.”
The Beijing scam began with a series of emails in the run-up to May’s federal election containing a message from a self-described “humble” digital new site called “Australian Morning News” (site pictured) asking recipients for a link that would infect their computers with malware and compromise their privacy
Pictured: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanian
“They support the Chinese government in matters related to the South China Sea, including during the recent tensions in Taiwan,” she told The Australian.
Ms. DeGrippo suspects the group is primarily interested in maritime issues in the disputed sea area and has stepped up efforts to access sensitive information as China becomes aggressive in the region.
Proofpoint said the hackers largely focused their efforts on global manufacturers operating wind turbines in the South China Sea by using emails with subject lines such as “sick leave” and “user research” to gain access to computer systems.
TA423/Red Ladon is a China-based espionage-motivated threat actor operating since 2013, targeting various organizations in response to political events in the Asia-Pacific region, with a focus on the South China Sea. tasting point.
“Target organizations include defense contractors, manufacturers, universities, government agencies, law firms involved in diplomatic disputes, and foreign companies involved in Austral-Asian policy or operations in the South China Sea.”
Between April and June, the cyber hackers targeted local and federal government agencies under the guise of ‘Australian Morning News’ (photo Chinese troops training in Russia)
Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in 2021 that China was responsible for a series of attacks that were later condemned in a joint statement coordinated with the US, UK, European Union, New Zealand, Canada and NATO.
Communist Party officials were outraged when Morrison’s government called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in April 2020.
Calls for transparency were met with a series of arbitrary bans and tariffs on key Australian exports, including barley, wine, beef, cotton, seafood, coal and timbre.
Intelligence officials also attributed the previous major cyberattack on the Australian parliament last year, as part of Beijing’s campaign to intimidate or intimidate Australia as tensions over trade facilitation.