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China’s hacking attacks are more than just a nuisance

The Chinese cyber attack on the Bureau of Meteorology last week might have been big, but it is in no way exceptional. It’s part of a much bigger problem.

The US has had some of its most expensive and critical weapons systems compromised. The theft of its intellectual property led then-director of the NSA General Keith Alexander to call it “the greatest transfer of wealth in history” and China regularly attacks US companies it disagrees with, like the New York Times for exposing corruption among its leadership. Perhaps most troubling, critical infrastructure is also frequently targeted.

While the exact motivation for the attack on the Bureau of Meteorology is unclear, there would be a range of strategic objectives that it could serve, including insight into Australia’s defence operations. In the big picture though it is just the latest in a long string of attacks.

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