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Australia Vows to Fight Back Against State Cyber Attacks

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Canberra would challenge ‘malign actors who use technology to undermine freedom and democracy’


Australia sanctions
Australian defence minister Peter Dutton, left, and foreign minister Marise Payne attend a press conference with US secretary of state Antony Blinken and US defence secretary Lloyd Austin in 2021. Photo: Reuters.

 

Australia and Britain will “fight back” against cyber attacks from China, Russia and Iran, Defence Minister Peter Dutton said ahead of consultations with Britain in Sydney.

Australia’s defence and foreign affairs ministers will meet with UK Defence secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign secretary Liz Truss on Friday for annual consultations.

Australia and the UK would coordinate cyber sanction regimes to increase deterrence, raising the costs for hostile state activity in cyberspace, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said, after signing an agreement with Truss on Thursday.

“Australia is committed to working with partners such as the UK to challenge malign actors who use technology to undermine freedom and democracy,” Payne said in a statement.

 

Focus of Meeting

Dutton said Friday’s meeting would focus on cybersecurity.

“Both the UK and Australia get regular attacks from Russia and from China, Iran and other countries,” he said, adding they would “fight back”.

Cybercrime soared in 2021, according to the World Economic Forum, with ransomware attacks rising 151%. There were on average 270 cyberattacks per organisation during the year, a 31% increase on 2020.

Discussions will also identify areas where Australia and the Britain can work together and Australia’s nuclear submarine programme.

The new Aukus defence alliance with Britain and the US signed last year prompted Australia to cancel a contract for a conventional French submarine in favour of a nuclear programme supported by Washington and London.

 

  • Reuters, with editing by George Russell

 

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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