Hacker codenamed 'Alf' from Home and Away stole data from defence subcontractor

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About 30GB of data was compromised in the hack on a government contractor, including details about new fighter planes and navy vessels. Clarke said that this would have made it easier for the hacker to access all the sensitive data on the firm's servers, because the firm used common username and passwords on every machine in the firm, and once it had the initial passwords, that was all it needed. It did not know if a state was involved.

A mystery hacker has stolen information about Australia's warplanes from a defence subcontractor.

"We don't necessarily let the public, hackers, and criminal actors know what we know about what they're doing".

"It could be one of a number of different actors", Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne told the Australian Broadcasting Corp on Thursday.

Tehan told the ABC the person or group responsible was not known. "It could be someone who is working for another company".

Mr Pyne said he had been assured the theft was not a risk to national security.

Given the name "ATP ALF" - in reference to a +30 year character from the long-running Australian beachside TV program, "Home and Away" - the hacker had managed to sit inside the system of the contractor for months before detection in November 2016, and stole information about programs such as the $17 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project, the C-130 Hercules transport plane and the $4 billion P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft project.

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Mr Clarke told a Sydney security conference that the hacker had exploited a weakness in software being used by the government contractor.

"While awareness of cyber-crime is certainly on the rise, so too is the threat that it poses, with the report claiming 47,000 cyber incidents took place in the past 12 months alone".

The aerospace engineering firm of was also using default passwords, he said.

Government cyber officials started fixing the system in December a year ago and referred to the, roughly, three month period before that as "Alf's Mystery Happy Fun Time".

Experts at the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) codenamed the hacker "Alf" after the character from the television drama Home and Away. "It's just a thing we do", he said. "That is a stretch", Mr Pyne said.

"If we got lucky this time, and it was only sensitive information, not even more significant information, we need to make sure there is no next time, the government needs to wake up to itself, start taking its responsibility seriously and start protecting sensitive defence information". "The ASD and the cyber security office immediately swung into action", he said.

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