Trojan takes down entire WA Parliament IT, phone system


blog Bad news for the Western Australian Parliament, which, it appears, didn’t have the most hardened IT security systems on earth. The ABC is reporting today that a “trojan virus” has knocked the Parliament’s IT and telephone systems offline. The media outlet reports (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“A memo sent to MPs said a Trojan virus had penetrated Parliament’s Information Technology network, forcing computers and phones to be isolated … [Speaker Michael Sutherland] said the incident had occurred despite Parliament’s “sophisticated” firewalls and staff had been working hard to resolve the issue.”

To be honest, this really does not come as a surprise. Here’s what the WA Government’s Auditor-General had to say about the state’s IT security back in 2010:

“Western Australia’s acting Auditor-General Glen Clarke has issued a serious warning to the state’s departments and agencies to beef up their IT security practices, with a new report finding that most were not even using basic security techniques such as encryption of sensitive data on laptops and USB keys.”

Similar comments were made several years before that in 2007, and again in 2011:

“Western Australia’s auditor-general has handed down a landmark report which details the fact that none of a wide range of government departments and agencies in the state are currently able to prevent basic cyber-attacks against their IT infrastructure — or even detect that they had taken place.”

And the warnings were repeated in 2013.

What we’re seeing here is a clear pattern of events, where the WA Auditor-General has warned about IT security issues on no less than four occasions over the majority of a decade. In this context, it’s not surprising that the WA Government has been hacked into in 2016. The only question I have is why it hasn’t happened before now. Or … perhaps it did and nobody realised, because key IT systems were not taken down, merely penetrated.

Image credit: David Stanley, Creative Commons


  1. Errrrr… Look, it’s painful–the truth I mean–but someone’s got to say it. First, it’s not ACTUALLY Brian Burkette’s fault. Yes, Mr 3% did steadily remove real funding from almost everything, but the fact is that IT security is not well understood by farmers, pastoralists and miners so losing IT funding is not that important. Hell, most of them aren’t even sure what TELEPHONES are for!

    And let’s not forget the WA Police Department, with it’s own multi-million IT embarrassments. And that was BEFORE Mr 3% started so he didn’t do it.

    And before we get carried away, we must ask: “Was any real damage done? Was confidential information compromised? Were any politicians inconvenienced? (The answer to this last is ‘No, it’s Thursday, not Friday’.)” For the others, no, we have nothing confidential in Parliament except the Social Democrats’ political agenda; no politicians were inconvenienced as the latest scandals have not yet been released by the news media; and therefore no damage was done.

    And the removal of GST from WA is totally irrelevant. Yes it may well have been used to pay for effective hardening of more prosperous States’ Parliaments, but it’s still irrelevant. Can WA still afford to build more Freeways and Highways? Yes. So given the cubic capacity of an old Holden Station Wagon, travelling at a median speed of 45Km/H up Kwinana Freeway from Busselton in the morning with a load of USB sticks, WA still holds the record for the fastest internet in Australia. And it’s secure, because the traffic jam is so intense nobody can get near the Holden until it arrives in Perth and the traffic jam is removed.

    Now that wasn’t so bad was it? I mean it’s not as though anybody’s been caught nicking stamps is it?

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