From PhysOrg:

Trouble at the BOM. Credit: flickr Tatters, CC BY-SA

The ABC is reporting that there has been a “massive” breach of computer systems at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). The hack of computer systems at the BOM is believed to have originated from China and the ABC has quoted an expert as saying: “It could take years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to fix”.

The BOM has not denied the breach but has stated that:

The Bureau’s systems are fully operational and the Bureau continues to provide reliable, ongoing access to high quality weather, climate, water and oceans information to its stakeholders.

Unfortunately, little is known about what computers were hacked, nor what was actually done by the hackers. This in turn makes it hard to say definitively what will need to be done to clean up after the hack and more importantly, stop it happening again.

What could realistically have been hacked?

The Bureau of Meteorology, like any government agency, will have a network of desktop computers and servers that are used for their day-to-day business. These systems are the easiest targets because access can be obtained by “phishing” for user names and passwords directly from employees. This hacking approach was used by Chinese hackers in their infiltration of the New York Times in 2013.

It is possible, but less likely, that the hackers were also able to access the BOM’s latest supercomputer, a A$77 million Cray computer that is handling the agency’s ever…

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