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Friday, 19 June 2020 11:25

Question for PM: Is this a new attack? Or is it old stuff? Featured

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Question for PM: Is this a new attack? Or is it old stuff? Image by Mustafa Kücük - v. Gruenewaldt from Pixabay

The main question around the announcement of a cyber attack by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday morning is simple: is this a new attack? Or is it part of the port scanning and probing that goes on every single day?

Surprisingly, there was no media release from any minister worthy of note. All we had was Morrison speaking in a breathless tone as though he had run a mile or so.

If state-based actors were hammering on the cyber portals of both the public and private sectors, would it not have merited a more studied approach by our political masters?

The Australian Cyber Security Centre issued a detailed statement about the attacks – but that statement was updated on Thursday, well before Morrison gave his media briefing.

Given this, there was a lot of speculation as to whether there was anything happening right now or whether, this being Friday, there was some bad news coming in the evening. What they call "taking out the trash" in Canberra.

To me, Morrison sounded something like the former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld who, after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, would suddenly raise the level of alert in the country due to what he claimed were unspecified attacks being planned.

Keeping the population scared is a well-known tactic employed by politicians; it makes the masses so much easier to control.

It is reasonable to assume that if there was a major attack ongoing, then Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton would not have missed a chance to be there at the media conference.

He is the minister who manages a whole load of agencies that deal with cyber security. Yet, there is not even a media release on the ministry's website.

Is this the way the government reacts when a "major, sophisticated state-based actor" is threatening the whole of the country as Morrison made out?

If so, then we need to be more scared than ever as our politicians are clearly not ready for a major intrusion.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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