Western Australia’s parliamentary email network was hit by suspected Chinese hackers earlier this month as part of a massive global cyber-attack involving Microsoft software.
The ABC has confirmed the online strike, which was detected on March 4 in the middle of the state election campaign, prompted intervention from Australia’s cyber security watchdog in Canberra.
“Please be advised that the Parliament mail server has been hit with a cyber-attack,” WA politicians were warned at the time.
“Consequently, the mail server will be down until further notice,” a text message sent by the Department of Parliamentary Services advised.
An investigation by Western Australia’s Parliamentary Services Department has since concluded no sensitive data was stolen in the attack.
“As soon as we became aware of the attack, we immediately disconnected the email server,” WA’s Executive Manager of Parliamentary Services Rob Hunter told the ABC.
The situation was resolved by the following morning … and a forensic audit found there was no data breach.’’
A week later, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) warned all organisations and businesses using Microsoft Exchange products to urgently patch their software after it was compromised by hackers.
Thousands of Australian servers are believed to have been affected by the hack, although the federal government has not publicly identified any of the organisations or businesses hit.
The ACSC has declined to comment on the attack against Western Australia’s Parliament but a spokesperson said many organisations were “yet to patch affected versions of Microsoft Exchange, leaving them exposed to potential compromise”.