Hacked: When Cyber Spies Attack

2013, Technology  -  42 min Leave a Comment
Rating from 1 user
Report Documentary


2 min read

In this documentary, ABC Australia looks into the ever-growing problem of cyber attacks in both the civilian and government sectors. We first speak with Donald McGurk, the CEO of Codan Ltd in Australia, about an attack his company sustained where data used to reverse engineer a popular metal detection product of theirs was stolen, and then implemented in the manufacturing and sale of inferior, but considerably cheaper, versions of it.

Suspicions were raised when dealers and retailers began complaining of circuitry and unit performance being below par, but when the ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) showed up on their doorstep to inform them with certainty that they had been hacked, McGurk quickly realized company security measures would need to be revamped drastically to deal with the threat they were facing. The company designs and manufactures a number of products that are sold into government and military use, and that makes the company a prominent target for hackers.

The ASIO investigation of the matter revealed that while visiting China on a business trip, a Codan executive logged into the wireless internet connection at his hotel and opened the floodgates to his company's intelligence. Chinese hackers seized the opportunity by installing malware onto the executive's laptop, which was all the foothold necessary to then work its way into the Codan offices computer system back in Australia.

Turning their attention to breaches of Australia's government agency computer systems, the filmmakers quickly arrived at a dead end when speaking to current and former government officials on the record, citing that it just was "not in the culture" to speak about specific breaches of security - though they did not shy away from admissions of the inevitability of it happening.

Doing a little research of their own, the filmmakers were able to drive up an interview with an informant willing to speak on conditions of anonymity about the matter. The informant cites breaches at a number of important installations, the most notable being the Defense Department - the agency that houses a secure email network connecting the entire Australian military.

The risk of cyber attacks, and the sensitive information targeted by them, grows exponentially on a daily basis. The film is a look at what we are doing to corral these risks without overstepping the bounds of individual privacy.