Cyber attack to shut Australian ports for ‘days’

Cyber attack to shut Australian ports for ‘days’

Operator DP World spotted breach quickly but says ‘key systems’ were still affected

A container ship is berthed at Fremantle Port in Western Australia. (Photo: Calistemon via Wikimedia Commons)
A container ship is berthed at Fremantle Port in Western Australia. (Photo: Calistemon via Wikimedia Commons)

Australian authorities are investigating a “nationally significant” cyber attack that shuttered several ports run by DP World Australia and warned that the interruption could last for “days” and affect trade shipments.

The government convened a crisis meeting on Saturday to coordinate its response to the hack, which was detected on Friday and led DP World to limit access to four of Australia’s largest ports. National Cybersecurity Coordinator Darren Goldie said agencies would gather again Sunday and work with the company to resume operations.

“Our priority is to assist DP World Australia to resolve the incident, so they are in a position to restore access to the ports they operate across the country,” Goldie said in a post on X (Twitter).

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

DP World said it detected an “intrusion” into its system on Friday and immediately disconnected internet connectivity, the Australian Financial Review reported, citing a company statement.

While that stopped unauthorised access into its network, it also led to “key systems which underpin operations at their Australian ports not functioning normally”, the company said.

The port closures in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle threaten to hobble supply chains, which are yet to recover fully from the effects of the pandemic. The disruption comes at a time when DP World’s operations are already affected by an ongoing strike by the Maritime Union of Australia over wages and better working conditions. 

The company did not reply to emails or phone calls from Bloomberg News requesting comment outside of regular business hours.

DP World said its actions were “necessary to contain the incident and minimise the impact on their employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders”, the Australian Financial Review reported.

The company is working with authorities and stakeholders to ensure “sensitive inbound freight can be prioritised and retrieved,” the paper said.

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