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China Prime Suspect for Breach of 19 Years of Data From Australian National University

China: While China has not been openly accused of being behind the attack, many in Australia are currently eying China for an attack on the Australian National University (ANU) which accessed 19 years’ worth of data. The only information that ANU can confirm was put at risk were names, addresses, birth dates, phone numbers, personal email addresses, emergency contact details, tax file numbers, payroll information, bank account details, passport information, and academic records.  There is no evidence that any research data was accessed, however in the process of remediation, much forensic evidence was destroyed making it difficult to know who was behind the attack, how they accessed the systems, or what else was accessed for certain.  ANU happens to also be the home of Australia’s National Security College which specializes in graduate studies in a joint initiative with the government.  While no fingers have been pointed openly towards China, it was said that based off of the remaining forensic data, the attack was clearly the work of a “sophisticated actor.”

Analyst Notes

With relations between Australia and China being uneasy, access to information from an institution of higher education, especially one with ties to Australia’s national security apparatus, would likely be a very tempting target for Chinese actors.