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Cyber attacks from China hit Australia Media Company on “sensitive” news

Posted by Author on April 14, 2010

By Ben Grubb, on April 13th, 2010 –

News Limited has had numerous distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks aimed at its infrastructure in Australia and around the globe, according to its Australian IT security manager, Bob Hinch.

Hinch, who is one of four working on IT security in Australia for News Limited was at a media briefing held by security company Websense in Sydney today, where he revealed the media giant had been hit by numerous DDoS attacks. The attacks often came together with emailed extortion notices demanding the retraction of articles, which he said he mostly referred to the police.

But the police had no power to do anything about it, he said, and often the problem had been referred to the Australian High Tech Crime Centre.

“It’s very difficult to get the police to pay attention to some of these issues and the threats we get,” Hinch said.

Many of the attacks originated “especially” from the Chinese Government, according to Hinch, and they occurred when something written by one of News Limited’s journalists “hit a raw nerve” and wasn’t in favour of the attacker’s view. “It depends on the story you’re running,” he said.

Hinch told that the attacks were growing “more and more political” and they weren’t stopping.

Asked if the media giant had ever bowed down to pressure and retracted an article, Hinch said that only in the case of death threats to its journalists did things start to become serious. “The police get very interested then,” he said.

Although Hinch would not give an example of a news article or site which had been targeted in this manner, he did say that News Limited’s business listing website had been hit recently. He wouldn’t go into detail about where that attack originated from.

Hinch said part of the problem he saw was that there was not a lot of case law to litigate against the attacks.

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