Outgoing Woodside Chief Executive Don Voelte said that no one in particular is to blame, and to stop "picking on the Chinese"

A series of cyber attacks have threatened the security of many large corporations recently, including Sony, who lost millions of customer records through its PlayStation Network (PSN) and Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) databases. More recently, the U.S. government's top IT provider Lockheed Martin was hacked using stolen RSA information.

With cyber attacks becoming more common and increasingly sophisticated, Australia's government warned companies today that these threats are "intensifying," and that heightened awareness of these attacks is vital.

In February of this year, Australia's parliament suffered a cyber attack where at least 10 federal computers were hacked. The computers of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Defense Minister Stephen Smith were among those accessed, where confidential e-mails may have been compromised. Among those suspected of committing the crime were Chinese intelligence agencies, which were involved in similar crimes in France. 

As a result, Australian Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy met with chief executives from 20 of the largest resource companies, manufacturers and banks last month to talk about the increase in cyber threats. The executives received "confidential briefings" from the Office of National Assessments and the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), which guards against foreign IT threats. Some of the rumored companies in attendance were Anglo-Australian miner BHP Billiton, Woodside, Rio Tinto and the country's four major banks. 

Then, in a business conference in Perth on Friday, an executive from Australia's largest oil and gas company, Woodside Petroleum, announced that cyber attacks are a concern in Australia. But Outgoing Woodside Chief Executive Don Voelte said that no one in particular is to blame; the attacks are coming from everywhere.

"It comes from everywhere," said Voelte. "It comes from Eastern Europe; it comes from Russia. Just don't pick on the Chinese; it's everywhere."

McClelland added that the important thing to do is focus on the threat itself and not necessarily worry about where it's coming from for now, at least. 

"We don't comment on the source of those [attacks]," said McClelland. "It is often literally hard to identify. They are often re-routed through other countries and other providers. We think it is better to deal with the threat, to address the vulnerability. It may well be that there is a private corporation involved, that the issue can be addressed without prejudicing their business relations, or their reputation.

"People should not assume that it is any particular company [involved], because quite often, espionage will be conducted through a customer or a supplier."

Other sectors of the Australian government, such as the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, plan to protect the country's resource companies from potential attacks like those launched against the government in February. 

"There is no doubt that cyber-security threats are becoming worse," said McClelland. "Without talking about specific incidents, there have been a number of reports concerning our resource companies."

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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