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Australia warns on cyber attacks on resource firms

05-30-2011 14:50 BJT

CANBERRA - Australia's government urged companies on Monday to tighten vigilance over cyber attacks launched offshore against some of the world's biggest resource firms and other businesses, warning high-tech threats were intensifying.

The call for greater vigilance by Attorney-General Robert McClelland came after the outgoing head of Australia's biggest oil and gas company, Woodside Petroleum , said cyber hacking attacks were now coming "from everywhere".

"There is no doubt that cyber-security threats are becoming worse," McClelland told Reuters on the sidelines of a cyber security conference in Canberra.

"Without talking about specific incidents, there have been a number of reports concerning our resource companies," McClelland said.

Outgoing Woodside chief executive Don Voelte told a business conference in Perth on Friday that cyber attacks were a major concern in resource powerhouse Australia

Lockheed Martin Corp, the US government's top information technology provider, raised concern about cyber hacking at the weekend, complaining of a pattern of frequent attacks on it from around the world.

Japanese electronics conglomerate Sony was also hit by a breach involving its PlayStation Network that compromised the personal data of more than 100 million customers.

Australia's parliament came under cyber attack in February, with the computers of at least 10 federal ministers including Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Defence Minister Stephen Smith, targeted and confidential emails possibly accessed.

"We don't comment on the source of those (attacks). It is often literally hard to identify. They are often re-routed through other countries and other providers," McClelland said.

"We think it is better to deal with the threat, to address the vulnerability. It may well be that there is a private corporation involved, that the issue can be addressed without prejudicing their business relations, or their reputation."

Last month's meeting was believed to involve Anglo-Australian miner BHP Billiton , as well as rival Rio Tinto, Woodside and other resource firms, as well as the country's four major banks.

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