In December 2015, New South Wales experienced a hacking attempt in the Department of Resources and Energy. While as of several months ago they had yet to confirm who conducted the attack, they had failed to confirm whether or not they were successfully hacked at all. This blatant lack of confidence has shaken many citizen's faith in their government and its perceived transparency. While lack of trust in the government is an issue, the possible hacking is a unique and pressing matter.
It has been reported that they believe the hacking was unsuccessful. However, they have yet to confidently assert that the hacking failed. According to the executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Peter Jennings, it can be challenging to verify if a hacking was successful or failed. Because of this difficulty, the Department of Resources and Energy has yet to decipher whether or not any information was taken.
The information at risk details numerous plans, such as the Shenhua Watermark coal mine. This $1.2 billion plan details the company's expansion into Australia in order to generate and sell coal. Although taking place in Australia, the company is controlled by Chinese delegates. Because of China's involvement, Jennings suspects that the hackers may be located in China. This suspicion, however, has no supporting evidence. Despite that nothing has been validated, they suggested that the attack failed and that the hackers are possibly Chinese.
Many assume that the government is too large and too risky of a target to hack; Jennings suggests that this particular department was chosen because it depicted a weakness in the public sphere. It was also suggested that the hackers were attempting to find more undisclosed information from other areas of the government; and this department was simply the weak link through which they were able to infiltrate the system.
This instance illuminates a couple of new points that companies should take into consideration.
- First, equally protect all parts of the company. One branch may contain more important information than another, but a vulnerability in a weaker branch could lead to hackers gaining access to those classified files.
- Second, hire a security team in which you have confidence. Investing in a team that can provide answers and solutions is always in a company's best interest to support the prevention of recurring incidents.
- Lastly, nobody is off limits when it comes to hacking. A governmental or large company system may be assumed to be impenetrable, however, do not dismiss the notion that nobody will do it. Always be prepared and anticipate anything that might come your way.