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Australian prime minister says reports of Chinese hacking are 'inaccurate'

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 10:22 AM EDT, Tue May 28, 2013
Prime Minister Julia Gillard talks during House of Representatives question time on May 28, 2013 in Canberra, Australia.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard talks during House of Representatives question time on May 28, 2013 in Canberra, Australia.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: China calls the report "baseless accusation"
  • A TV report alleges that top Australian government agencies were hacked
  • It claims an attack out of China stole blueprints to the national spy agency's new HQ
  • Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the allegations are "unsubstantiated"

(CNN) -- Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia has described as "inaccurate" a TV report alleging that several government institutions including the country's main spy agency fell victim to foreign cyberattacks.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's investigative program Four Corners reported that hackers, thought to be from China, had breached government agencies including the prime minister's office and cabinet, as well as the departments of foreign affairs and defense.

The most striking element in the report was the allegation that a cyberattack from a server in China stole the blueprints to the new headquarters of the ASIO, Australia's top intelligence organization, including details on the building's security and communications systems, its floor plan and the locations of its servers.

But Gillard sought to play down the TV program's claims.

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"There were a number of unsubstantiated allegations of hacking in the Four Corners report as the attorney general has stated," she said, according to CNN affiliate Network Seven. "Neither he or the director general of ASIO intend to comment further on these inaccurate reports."

At a foreign ministry news conference Tuesday, Chinese officials called the report a "baseless accusation."

"Since the attacks are technically untraceable, it's difficult to find the origin of these attacks," said foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei. "I don't know where does the evidence come from for media to make such reports."

Hong added that cybersecurity is an issue internationally and it calls for a "calm and thorough discussion."

"Making baseless accusation will not help to improve the current situation," he said.

Earlier this month, the United States accused China of trying to extract sensitive information from U.S. government computers.

A Pentagon report said China was carrying out the attacks in an effort to extract information from "diplomatic, economic and defense industrial base sectors that support U.S. national defense programs."

At the time, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said China was "firmly against any forms of cyberattacks." Beijing has in the past insisted that China is the victim of cyberattacks, most originating in the United States.

Watch where you click: International cyber attacks on the rise

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