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Australia under 'cyber-attack' by 'sophisticated state-actor'

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud hold a press conference in Canberra, Australia, January 10, 2020.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud hold a press conference in Canberra, Australia, January 10, 2020.   -   Copyright  Rod McGuirk/AP
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Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison said that the country is under cyber-attack.

“This activity is targeting Australian organisations across a range of sectors, including all levels of government, industry, political organisations, education, health, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure,” he told reporters on Friday.

He said the frequency of the attacks has increased "over many months", adding that these actions are carried "by a state-based actor with significant capabilities."

Although he didn't name any in particular, he claimed that "there aren’t too many state-based actors" with "those capabilities".

The prime minister called on organisations involved in health, critical infrastructure and essential services to bolster technical defences to thwart the threat.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre and the Home Affairs Department published on Friday a technical advisory on how organisations can detect and mitigate such attacks.

Morrison has not commented on any speculations on the attacker's name.

“Australia doesn't engage lightly in public attribution”. he asserted, adding however that he "can't control what speculation others might engage in on this issue".

Up to date, Australia had not uncovered any "large-scale personal data breaches", according to Morrison, who reportedly spoke on the issue overnight with UK prime minister Boris Johnson.