Melbourne: Chinese hackers have allegedly stolen classified blueprints of the new headquarters of Australia`s top spy agency.
A computer system containing the information about the new intelligence Canberra-based hub of Australia Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) was illegally accessed by a server in China, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation`s investigative Four Corners programme on Monday.
The blueprints, that included floor plans and the locations of communications cabling, servers and security systems in the building, were taken in an operation targeting a contractor involved with building the project, the ABC said, without revealing the source of its claim.
"It reeked of an espionage operation. Someone had mounted a cyber hit on a contractor involved in the site," the report said.
Four Corners said the attack came from a server in China, which appears to be the main suspect behind the operation.
Companies including BlueScope Steel and Adelaide-based Codan, which makes radios for military and intelligence agencies, are also said to have been targeted by the Chinese, according to the ABC.
Few in government or business will admit the full extent of the break-ins, with one expert calling it a "dirty little secret", it said. The programme also revealed that hackers also targeted key Federal Government departments and major corporations in Australia.
It appeared that the hackers accessed the system holding vital design information involving a military radio system.
The break-in meant secure communications used by Australia`s allies could be compromised. A number of people, including former government advisors in cyber security, claim the digital trail leads to China but it was unclear if the hackers are working for the Chinese Government.
However, Australia today reiterated its relationship with China as of vital importance.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr today said the report will not hit ties with Beijing. He did not comment directly on the claims but said the government was "very alive" to cyber security threats. "I won`t comment on whether the Chinese have done what is being alleged or not," he said.
"I won`t comment on matters of intelligence and security for the obvious reason: we don`t want to share with the world and potential aggressors what we know about what they might be doing, and how they might be doing it", Carr said.
But he said the ABC report had "no implications" for a strategic partnership. "We have enormous areas of co-operation with China," he said.
"When it comes to China every Australian knows how economically important it is to this country to have the relationship with China that we have today", he said.