'Baseless speculation': China denies hacking Australian Parliament


A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman has rejected claims Beijing was behind a cyber attack on the networks of federal parliament.

China has hit back at suggestions it was behind a sophisticated cyber attack on Australia's political parties, warning "irresponsible" and "baseless" speculation will heighten tensions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed on Monday cyber experts believe a state actor was responsible for the attack, which also targeted the networks of federal parliament, but didn't say which country.

Security sources indicated last week China could be behind the attack, but the government's cybersecurity chief said the culprit was not yet clear.

China foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shaung said Beijing was firmly opposed to reports blaming the superpower for the breach, accusing media of undermining China's relationship with Australia.

"One should present abundant evidence when investigating and determining the nature of a cyberspace activity, instead of making baseless speculations and firing indiscriminate shots at others," he said.

"Irresponsible reports, accusations, pressurising and sanctions will only heighten tensions and confrontation in cyberspace and poison the atmosphere for cooperation."

He called on the international community to deal with cybersecurity threats through dialogue and cooperation on the basis of mutual respect.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Parliament.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Parliament.

Liberal, Labor and National Party platforms were hacked during a breach of the Australian Parliament House network earlier this month.

There is no evidence of an attempt to interfere in Australian elections.

But the government has put measures in place to ensure the integrity of the system, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison instructing the Australian Cyber Security Centre to be ready to provide the parties with support.

The centre's head Alastair MacGibbon said it is not clear what information the intruder may have seen or stolen, after quick action taken to stop the intrusion removed from forensic evidence.

"We will continue to work with our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, both here and overseas, to try to determine what they were trying to do," he told reporters in Canberra.

ASIO boss Duncan Lewis expressed his confidence that the issue has been "managed within an inch of its life" while being quizzed by senators.

"It is of core interest to me to ensure there is no foreign interference in our electoral process," he told a Senate committee.

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