The story demonstrates the high interest of spy agencies in hacking communication systems.
Once upon a time, the Australian satellite company was deeply hacked by cyber spies that completely corrupted its network. The company is not out of the business, its assets were sold off last year after it went into administration.
According to a former staffer that has spoken on condition of anonymity to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, it was ‘the most corrupted’ network the nation’s intelligence had encountered.
According to the ABC broadcast, the news of the hack was already reported in 2013, when the company reported the security breach to the Australian Signals Directorate. The Chinese nation-state hackers made the organization “the most corrupted network [the Directorate had ever seen”, the ABC reports.
Former Central Intelligence Agency Chief Michael Hayden declared that the China’s efforts against Australia aimed at “the theft of information, and really by and large the theft of information for commercial profit.”
According to the official hackers were interested in sensitive information such as the plans for a Lockheed Martin-designed satellite dubbed Jabiru-1.
“Given we were up against China, state-sponsored, a lot of money behind them and a lot of resources and we were only a very small IT team, it certainly wasn’t a fair fight for us,” Newsat’s former IT manager Daryl Peter said.
The issue had come to the headlines because the Newsat company was planning to install a restricted encryption tool to allows the NSA to spy on satellite communications, so it notified its intent to the ASD.
The Australian Signals Directorate refused to release the encryption tool to Newsat until it was able to eradicate the intruders from its systems. intelligence officials replied to the company telling its networks were “the most corrupted” they had seen.
Intelligence officials who examined the Newsat infrastructure confirmed it was “the most corrupted” they had seen.
“They actually said to us that we were the worst,” Mr Peter said.
“What came out of that meeting was we had a serious breach on our network and it wasn’t just for a small period of time, they’d been inside our network for a long period, so maybe about two years. And the way it was described to us was they are so deep inside our network it’s like we had someone sitting over our shoulder for anything we did.”
According to the anonymous source that has revealed the story to the ABC, the Newsat network was completely rebuilt.
Anyway the NewSat company installed an Australian Government communications interception system in its data centre, but the Australian Government had refused to deploy the restricted NSA encryption tool due to the security breach it discovered.
“They (NewSat) had a lot of dealings with Middle East organisations,” the source said.
Let me suggest reading a detailed analysis published by the ABC’s Four Corners that confirms Australian Government computer networks were breached by hackers.
(Security Affairs – Intelligence, cyber espionage)