In 2018 the Australian National University (ANU), one of the world’s top education and research institutes, suffered a series of data breaches whose impact is only just unravelling.  It is generally believed that the perpetrators behind the sophisticated attack are motivated by espionage on important VIPs that may have studied at the university or are still studying there.

This case highlights the dark world of cyber espionage and the extent and resources the perpetrators are willing to exert in search of their goal.  It is never a simple formula of ‘A’ attacks ‘B’ to get their objective; Instead ‘A’ may attack ‘C’, ‘D’, ‘E’ and ‘F’ first to reach their end target ‘B’.  Hence whenever evaluating your risks it is important to visualise beyond the obvious and not just on your immediate business assets but also on the relationships you have, either direct or indirect, with other people or organisations of key importance.

In our experience this plays out very relevantly in the legal sector where law firms have relationships with a multitude of organisations and act as mediators and points of trust between many transacting stakeholders.  But it is also true for other industry sectors that rely heavily on strategic supply chains, whether physical supply-chains or intellectual.

Read the full incident report as issued by the Australian National University <here>

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Video: ANU vice chancellor Brian Schmidt says the cyber attack was extremely “sophisticated”. (ABC News)