Australia blames 'sophisticated state actor' for massive government hack

Hack comes just months before a scheduled national election.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says a "sophisticated state actor" was behind a cyber attack on Parliament.
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The recent hacking of the Australian Parliamentary computer network was conducted by a "sophisticated state actor," the country's prime minister said Monday, raising concerns of foreign political interference just weeks before a national election.

The systems of the ruling Liberal and National coalition parties as well as the opposition Labor Party were targeted in the cyber attack, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Parliament on Monday. He didn't identify the country suspected of the hack.

"The methods used by malicious actors are constantly evolving and this incident reinforces yet again the importance of cyber security as a fundamental part of everyone's business," Morrison said.

Concern over foreign interference into elections has increased since revelations emerged of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election. US officials have accused state-sponsored Russian hackers of infiltrating the Democratic National Committee's servers to steal emails to embarrass the Clinton campaign.

The prime minister went on to say that there was no evidence of electoral interference, but that the government has installed "a number of measures" to ensure the integrity of the electoral system. A national election is expected to be held in May.

He said the Australian Cyber Security Centre -- the agency responsible for overseeing national cyber security -- is working with antivirus firms to ensure the country has the ability to detect malicious activity.

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