Monday, 25 June, 2018

Hacker codenamed 'Alf' from Home and Away stole data from defence subcontractor

Mitchell Clarke from the Australian Signals Directorate told a Sydney conference on Wednesday the attacker stole 30 gigabytes of data most of it related to defence Australian Defence Aircraft Data Hacked by “Partner Organisation” in 2016: ACSC
Ellis Copeland | 12 October, 2017, 08:00

The prime minister's adviser on cyber security Alastair MacGibbon says there is a range of ways the attacker could have got in, including default passwords.

ASD staff codenamed the hacker "Alf", after a long-running character on the television drama Home & Away, with the period between July and November referred to as "Alf's mystery happy fun time".

Australian authorities criticised the defence contractor for "sloppy admin" and it turns out nearly anybody could have penetrated the company's network.

The subcontractor was revealed as using software that hadn't been updated for 12 months as well as username-password combinations, "admin-admin" and "guest-guest".

The secret information was restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), the U.S. system created to regulate the export of defence and military-related technologies, according to Mitchell Clarke, an incident response manager at the ASD who worked on the case.

"From those visitors overseas to Australia, Alf is Alf Stewart from an horrific Australia soap opera called Home & Away".

Government cyber officials started fixing the system in December a year ago and referred to the, roughly, three month period before that as "Alf's Mystery Happy Fun Time".

The F-35 Lightning, the Joint Strike Fighter.

The firm was subcontracted four levels down from defence contracts and had only one IT person.

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"That ITAR data included information on the JSF - the joint strike fighter, the C130, the P-8 Poseidon, the JDAM - that's a smart bomb, and a few Australian naval vessels", he said.

Sensitive information about Australia's defence programmes has been stolen in an "extensive" cyber hack.

One document was a wireframe diagram of "one of the navy's new ships".

Mr Clarke described the security breach as "sloppy admin" and said the organisation only had one IT person.

Comment has been sought from Mr Tehan and the Defence department.

"Today, while presenting at a conference in Sydney, an ASD official (who works for the ACSC) disclosed information about the theft of data from an Australian company", the spokesperson said.

The Opposition demanded answers on Thursday about the breach, which the government has confirmed without giving specific details and blamed on the contractor's poor cyber security.

"While the Australian company is a national-security linked contractor and the information disclosed was commercially sensitive, it was unclassified", they said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

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