Hacked: When Cyber Spies Attack

2013, Technology  -   5 Comments
Ratings: 7.71/10 from 75 users.

In this documentary, ABC Australia looks into the ever-growing problem of cyber attacks in both the civilian and government sectors. We first speak with Donald McGurk, the CEO of Codan Ltd in Australia, about an attack his company sustained where data used to reverse engineer a popular metal detection product of theirs was stolen, and then implemented in the manufacturing and sale of inferior, but considerably cheaper, versions of it.

Suspicions were raised when dealers and retailers began complaining of circuitry and unit performance being below par, but when the ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) showed up on their doorstep to inform them with certainty that they had been hacked, McGurk quickly realized company security measures would need to be revamped drastically to deal with the threat they were facing. The company designs and manufactures a number of products that are sold into government and military use, and that makes the company a prominent target for hackers.

The ASIO investigation of the matter revealed that while visiting China on a business trip, a Codan executive logged into the wireless internet connection at his hotel and opened the floodgates to his company's intelligence. Chinese hackers seized the opportunity by installing malware onto the executive's laptop, which was all the foothold necessary to then work its way into the Codan offices computer system back in Australia.

Turning their attention to breaches of Australia's government agency computer systems, the filmmakers quickly arrived at a dead end when speaking to current and former government officials on the record, citing that it just was "not in the culture" to speak about specific breaches of security - though they did not shy away from admissions of the inevitability of it happening.

Doing a little research of their own, the filmmakers were able to drive up an interview with an informant willing to speak on conditions of anonymity about the matter. The informant cites breaches at a number of important installations, the most notable being the Defense Department - the agency that houses a secure email network connecting the entire Australian military.

The risk of cyber attacks, and the sensitive information targeted by them, grows exponentially on a daily basis. The film is a look at what we are doing to corral these risks without overstepping the bounds of individual privacy.

More great documentaries

5 Comments / User Reviews

  1. hasanhh

    Good Doc.
    One key point can be re-worded to: auto-inflicted penalty; for stealing my stuff.

  2. StillTruth

    Obama chides Sony for pulling their movie because it reflects their lack of faith in Obama keeping themselves or this nation safe. Obama mocks how seriously this comedy is taken by North Korea after claiming to the U.N. that Benghazi was the result of a YouTube video. You can't have it both ways.

  3. DigiWongaDude

    So basically history will show us, according to this doc perhaps, that the disproportionate spending by the west on military hardware and cyops, rather than establishing and maintaining world peace, actually triggered the inevitable cyberwarfare response by asia as their sole means of practical defence against a potential onslaught of military might (see U.S. military build up in South China Sea and TDF doc "Counter-Intelligence" (2013).

    Similar so called counter responses by the west dragged the world into a new cold war arms race, this time in the digital world, with nuclear weapons lurking in the wings. No-one at the time had any notion of negotiating peace treaties within the digital realm, as the west had already established preemtive strikes as fair play in the modern warfare arena, through its war on terror.

    Hindsight as they say, is a wonderful thing...

  4. Polar Jo

    enjoyed this, timely...I doubt if there will be much that surprises anybody. The thing that I wonder about, is why is 'all' our focus usually on keeping everything a 'secret', maybe if we started bringing 'most' things into the public domain, develop more 'cooperative' venture focussed without the traditional capitalist need to make reams of money off every idea(I know blasphemy!). Maybe, just maybe, then the fewer targets of truly important 'secrets' can be more affordably and better protected? But what do I know, I like miss congeniality just want 'world peace' and for homo sapiens sapiens to learn how to share :)

    1. Smakarn

      Well said! You are absolutely not alone on this planet that strives for the same mentality to reach more of the same liked minded ppl. Thanks for post.