“Let’s say it is China, they may have been happy leaving enough fingerprints around because they wanted Australia to know,” he said.
“It is chest-beating. Traditionally for the Yanks it was get the seventh fleet and hang a couple of aircraft carriers just over the horizon with the radars switched on.”
Professor Valli said cyber attacks were like COVID-19 in that they were persistent, tended to stick around and it was very difficult to trace the origins.
“One of the biggest challenges in cyber space is attribution and there is the same problem with COVID-19 attribution,” he said.
“It could take years to work out where the virus started. It is the same with who cuts mal-code and who deploys it.
“It is time Australia woke up. There is no rapid vaccine or fix for this. People have to adapt their behaviour in the same way we have adapted to COVID.”
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Mr Morrison accused a “sophisticated state-based actor” of a wave of attacks on all levels of government, industry, critical industry, education, health and essential services providers.
Professor Valli said there was clear evidence of foreign governments turning to what he called “cyber Drakes” to carry out their dirty work.
The term is a reference to Sir Francis Drake and the privateers who acted as slave traders and virtual pirates for England in the Elizabethan era.
“If a foreign government wants to generate cyber attacks against Australia, there are several ways to do it. A dumb way is to make the military do it because sooner or later someone will work it out,” Professor Valli said.
“The smart way, and a lot of them are using it, is to fund groups with the skills to do it and then they have plausible deniability.”