China has been accused of a being behind a recent cyber attack on Australia's spy agency. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has refused to confirm the claim, calling the report "inaccurate."
The hacking allegations, first reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, prompted calls for an investigation from some members of parliament on Tuesday.They expressed outrage at the government's refusal to confirm or deny the ABC report.
According to the ABC, blueprints for the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) were stolen through a cyberattack traced back to a Chinese server. The information on the new intelligence headquarters in Canberra, currently under construction, included details of its servers and security system.
A cybersecurity expert from Australian National University told the public broadcaster that the attack had caused a major security breach.
"Once you get those building plans you can start constructing your own wiring diagrams, where the linkages are through telephone connections, through wi-fi connections," Professor Des Ball said, adding that it might be necessary to "rip the whole insides out and…start again."
The report also suggested that the security breach had delayed construction. The project has already cost 630 million Australian dollars (472 million euros, $611) and surpassed its completion date.
Independent MP Nick Xenophon accused the government of "hiding behind the cloak" of national security for refusing to confirm or deny the reports.
Meanwhile, Greens leader Christine Milne criticized the "security blunder" as yet another misstep in the ASIO building project.
"It is time that we had an independent inquiry into the whole sorry history of the ASIO building and the extent to which the current hacking has compromised its capacity to ever be the building and serve the purpose for which it was intended," said Milne.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr refused to comment on whether the security breach had taken place and said the media report would have no affect on Australia's partnership with China.
"It's got absolutely no implications for our strategic partnership," said Carr (pictured above). "We have enormous areas of cooperation with China."
Cybersecurity has already caused tension between Beijing and Canberra. Last year, China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd was barred from bidding for a contract in Australia's multi-billion dollar broadband infrastructure project.
kms/pfd (AP, AFP, dpa)