Defense Shipbuilder Austal Suffers Cybersecurity Breach

Defense Shipbuilder Austal Suffers Cybersecurity Breach

Austal, the Defense shipbuilder based in Western Australia has been hit with a data breach and extortion attempt.

The Guardian reports, “Defence shipbuilder Austal’s Australian business has been hit with a data breach and extortion attempt but insists there is no evidence of theft of national security information.”

The report further says, “Some staff email addresses and mobile phone numbers were accessed in the breach. The attacker tried to sell certain materials on the internet and engage in extortion. However, Austal said the company does not intend to respond to such threats.”

ABC reports that the company has announced to the stock exchange that “…its Australian data management system had been targeted by an “unknown offender”.”

The company has issued a statement acknowledging that the breach has affected a “small number” of its customers.

Austal, which builds patrol vessels and frigates for the Australian Navy, has indicated that those behind the breach have got access to or have stolen drawings and designs of its ships.

The ABC report quotes the company as stating, “Ship design drawings which may be distributed to customers and fabrication sub-contractors or suppliers are neither sensitive nor classified.” The company is also quoted as saying, “The data breach has had no impact on Austal’s ongoing operations.”

Austal, which has contracts with other countries also, has clarified that its business abroad hasn’t been affected by the breach as computer systems are not linked. The company has been designing, constructing and supporting all kinds of vessels (commercial vessels for operators throughout the world); it also develops and sustains advanced naval and other defense vessels.

The data breach incident is being investigated by the Federal Police and the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

The ABC report states, “In a statement, the Defence Department said it was aware of the breach but confirmed: “No compromise of classified or sensitive information or technology has been identified so far.” It further quotes the Defence Department as saying, “This incident reinforces the serious nature of the cyber security threat faced by the defence industry, and the need for industry partners to put in place, and maintain, strong cyber defences.”

There is still no clarity as to who was behind the cyberattack. ABC, however, reports, “While it was unclear who was behind this latest attack, Duncan Lewis, the head of Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, recently highlighted the growing threat to Australia’s national interests of “espionage and foreign interference”.”

Kevin Jones951 Posts

Kevin Jones, Ph.D., is a research associate and a Cyber Security Author with experience in Penetration Testing, Vulnerability Assessments, Monitoring solutions, Surveillance and Offensive technologies etc. Currently, he is a freelance writer on latest security news and other happenings. He has authored numerous articles and exploits which can be found on popular sites like and others.


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