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Senator James Paterson responds to IPAC breach, calls for sanctions against APT31

Shadow cyber security minister James Paterson has responded to the news that six Australian senators and members of parliament (MPs) were affected by a cyber attack three years ago.

user icon Daniel Croft
Wed, 08 May 2024
James Paterson responds to IPAC breach, calls for sanctions against APT31
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In 2021, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), a group of officials critical of China, was targeted in a cyber attack, which has been attributed to Chinese state-sponsored hacking group APT31.

The hackers, disguised as a news outlet, sent a number of pixel tracking emails to high-profile politicians as part of a cyber espionage campaign.

“The apparent intention was to garner sufficient information to mount more sophisticated follow-on attacks, escalating in severity,” said the affected Australian IPAC members in a statement.


Additionally, it became apparent that despite the attack occurring in 2021 and the FBI notifying Australian authorities in 2021 and again in 2022, the affected senators and MPs did not find out about the attack until last month after the US issued an indictment.

Responding to a request for comment from Cyber Daily, Paterson has condemned the actions of Beijing and APT31 and called for Australia to join the US and UK in imposing sanctions on the group.

“The actions of Chinese state-sponsored hacking group APT31 that have recently been revealed are serious and concerning,” Paterson said.

“It is unacceptable that democratically elected members of our Parliament have been targeted by a country that we apparently have a bilateral, functional relationship with.

“Our agencies have assured myself and the other targeted MPs and senators that these hacks were not successful.

“They have also agreed to inform us if we are specifically targeted like this again in future.

“We have laws that allow us to sanction this behaviour. In the past, we have also publicly attributed this behaviour to the Chinese government; this behaviour should be called out, and there should be consequences for it.”

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Born in the heart of Western Sydney, Daniel Croft is a passionate journalist with an understanding for and experience writing in the technology space. Having studied at Macquarie University, he joined Momentum Media in 2022, writing across a number of publications including Australian Aviation, Cyber Security Connect and Defence Connect. Outside of writing, Daniel has a keen interest in music, and spends his time playing in bands around Sydney.

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