Australian police probe government cyberattack

Police have been called in to investigate a planned denial-of-service attack on Australian government web servers due to occur on Wednesday evening

The Australian Federal Police has been called in to investigate a planned denial-of-service attack on Australian government web servers due to occur at 7pm tonight.

A spokesperson from the Attorney General's Department (AGD) on Wednesday said it was aware of the attack planned by a loose group of online pranksters which calls itself 'Anonymous'. The group published its threat on YouTube last month.

"The Australian Federal Police are leading the investigation into these cyberattacks," an AGD spokesperson told ZDNet Australia. "The government considers cybersecurity to be one of Australia's top national security priorities, as expressed by the prime minister in his National Security Statement last year."

The group claims its planned attack is a protest against the Australian government's highly contentious mandatory ISP filtering proposal. "The government have [sic] until 9am (23:00 GMT) on the 9/9/09 to make their position clear. If they don't back down then Anon will attack," the group claimed.

One network security professional laughed when asked whether the group was considered a serious threat. "The whole Anonymous thing is fanciful garbage. As a group it's not to be taken seriously," the source, who wished their name to be withheld, told ZDNet Australia.

The group has, however, achieved some online notoriety for previous attacks against the Church of Scientology.

AGD said it had advised agencies likely to be targeted — such as the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy and the Australian Communications and Media Authority — to contact their ISPs.

AGD has also provided agencies with information about the likely execution of the attacks, along with suggested mitigation strategies.

Earlier this year, the Australian Federal Police were called in by the AGD to investigate the hack of the Classification Board's website, which occurred shortly after minister for communications Stephen Conroy appeared on the ABC's current affairs panel Q&A.

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