SYDNEY - An Australian intelligence agency is warning that cyber-criminals will target the upcoming G20 summit in Brisbane, saying they could include state-sanctioned hackers, trade spies or activists.
As world leaders prepare to visit the Queensland state capital for the high-powered November 15-16 meeting, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) has reportedly been briefing industry about the threat.
"Targeting of high-profile events such as the G20 by state-sponsored or other foreign adversaries, cyber-criminals and issue-motivated groups is a real and persistent threat," the directorate said in its G20 cyber-security advice.
It said malicious emails appearing to relate to summits held in 2012 and 2013 had been sent to Australian government agencies in a bid to compromise computer networks and seek information.
A spokesman for CREST Australia, which provides cyber and information security to individuals and businesses, said Friday that hackers could have a wide range of motivations.
"They would love to just, you know, get into the traffic light system for example and just disrupt that. And what they're after really is free international media," Greg Rudd told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Rudd said hackers also tried to disguise their attacks, making it harder to know from where they originated.
"Because China is an obvious suspect and Russia is an obvious suspect, a lot of the hackers all over the world have gone out of their way and developed it into a bit of an art form to lay the blame at China and Russia's feet for all sorts of hacks," he said.
The ASD, which provides foreign signals intelligence to the Australian government and military, warned that the most commonly used technique to gain access to networks was via socially engineered emails.
These emails, which often appear work-related or from a friend or acquaintance, attempt to deceive the receiver into clicking on a link or an attachment which can install malicious software onto their computer.
Once installed, this software can facilitate the theft of information.