Ports to remain closed as AFP investigates cybersecurity breach

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Ports across the country are expected to remain closed for several days, impacting imports and exports as the Australian Federal Police investigate a cybersecurity incident.

DP World, which manages container terminals in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle, said it detected the cybersecurity incident on Friday with ports closing that same night.

The government has invoked the national crisis management framework used during COVID in response to the breach, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said, with the National Co-ordination Mechanism activated about noon on Saturday.

DP World said it has restricted landside access to safeguard customers and employees.Credit: Glenn Hunt

“The government is receiving regular briefings and is working with DP World Australia to understand the impacts of this incident and enable engagement across government,” the minister said in a statement.

The National Co-ordination Mechanism brings together federal, state and territory agencies, as well as industry and private sector stakeholders to respond to a hazard.

National Cyber Security Co-ordinator Air Marshal Darren Goldiem, who co-chaired the National Co-ordination Mechanism meeting, said DP Ports was consulting stakeholders to consider the impacts of its operations at specific ports.

“This interruption is likely to continue for a number of days and will impact the movement of goods into and out of the country,” he said.

“The Australian Signals Directorate’s Australian Cyber Security Centre is engaged with DP World Australia and is providing technical advice and assistance. The Australian Federal Police has commenced investigations into the incident.”

The National Co-ordination Mechanism will meet again on Sunday.

In a statement issued on Saturday, DP World said it was actively investigating the incident.

“Our teams are working diligently to contain the situation and determine the impact on our systems and data,” DP World Australia said.

“To safeguard our employees, customers and our networks, we have restricted landside access to our Australian port operations while we continue our investigation.”

The National Co-ordination Mechanism has been used in response to floods, supply chain disruption, emergency accommodation, destruction and reconstruction and cybersecurity attacks, including the Medibank data breach in October last year.

It was created in 2018 and embedded into the government’s crisis management architecture following its success in managing the pandemic’s non-health consequences.

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