Research Paper 18 1997-98
Thinking about the Unthinkable: Australian Vulnerabilities to High-Tech Risks
Dr Adam Cobb
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Group
29 June 1998
The document states the following:
"Hackers Attack NZ & Aust for Joining Gulf Taskforce
AZP London: A hacker group calling themselves the 'Anti-Christ Doom Squad' was involved in attacks against New Zealand and Australia just days after Wellington and Canberra announced troop deployments to the latest Gulf Crisis.
In a secret UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) report leaked today, the Auckland blackouts that crippled the city for weeks earlier in the year, were traced to electronic attacks on New Zealand's electricity distribution network, launched by computers in Amsterdam over the Internet. A senior government source in the Australian equivalent to GCHQ, the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), confirmed that the widespread blackouts across the Australian state of Queensland were also traced to the same source.
The 'Anti-Christ' hackers traversed computer systems worldwide using 'spoofed' user-names and stolen passwords to try to conceal their identity. Once inside the New Zealand power companies' supercomputer, the hackers accessed a control system commonly used in energy distributions systems to launch their attack. The Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system controls switches and flows across most modern power distribution networks.
The 'Anti Christ Doom Squad' then concentrated on manipulating one key choke-point on the outskirts of Auckland. It was the location where all five main powerlines converged before entering the city. The 'Doom Squad' altered the temperature within the gas-encased power lines thereby crippling them within minutes. The whole operation was launched and conducted from a drug caf蠡in Amsterdam using a lap-top and a modem.
Simultaneous widespread blackouts across the Australian state of Queensland disrupted businesses, schools and emergency services. However, the DSD refused to comment on whether any other critical Australian infrastructures were affected.
Because the attacks passed through computers in over 10 countries and legal jurisdictions, it will be almost impossible to bring the hackers to justice, the GCHQ report notes."
Now even George Shrub is denying the power cuts are the work of terrorists. Yet no-one seems to have any idea where the problem started. Perhaps it was all just accidental. Time will tell.