Australia's prime minister has revealed the country has been increasingly targeted by cyber attacks from a “sophisticated state-based cyber actor”.
Scott Morrison would not name the state responsible for the attacks, which have become more frequent "over many months".
Making the attacks public to raise awareness, he said "all levels of government, industry, political organisations, education, health, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure” had been targeted.
“This is the actions of a state-based actor with significant capabilities," Mr Morrison said.
“There aren’t too many state-based actors who have those capabilities.”
Mr Morrison said he had discussed the growing security threat with allies and had spoken to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the subject overnight.
Though no large-scale personal data breaches had been made, Australia's Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds reminded the public "cyber security is a shared responsibility".
Australia's leader would not comment on speculation the cyber attacks are a result of the country's rift with China.
Recent trade disputes have been viewed as Chinese punishment for Australian advocacy of an independent probe into the origins and spread of coronavirus.
Earlier this month, Britain's former First Sea Lord and ex-Chief of Defence Intelligence, Lord West, said Beijing had exploited the pandemic as a distraction "to see what they can get away with".
Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne this week accused China of using the anxiety around COVID-19 to undermine Western democracies by spreading disinformation online, prompting mirrored accusations from Beijing.
Mr Morrison said he "can’t control what speculation others might engage in on this issue".
Cover image: Scott Morrison speaking at a press conference (Picture: PA).