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Australia ports firm fights to restore operations after cyber incident

The Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House

Sydney - Ports operator DP World said Sunday it had made "significant strides" towards resuming normal freight trade at major gateways into Australia, which have been crippled for two days by a cyber incident.

Government agencies held crisis talks over the weekend in response to what Home Affairs and Cyber Security Minister Clare O'Neil described as a "serious and ongoing" breach that has disrupted operations at key ports.

"DP World manages almost 40 percent of the goods flowing in and out of our country," she added in a post on X. The port operator halted internet connectivity at its terminals in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Fremantle on Friday to prevent "any ongoing unauthorized access" to its network, a company spokesperson said. The disruption has not prevented containers from being taken off vessels but trucks needed to transport them have not been able to drive in or out of the terminals, DP World senior director Blake Tierney said.

In a statement, Tierney said the company had made "significant strides" working with cybersecurity experts and was testing key systems "crucial for the resumption of regular freight movement".

The company was seeking to restore normal operations "as quickly and safely as possible", he said, and was investigating "the nature of data access and data theft". "DP World Australia is working hard to assess whether any personal information has been impacted," Tierney added.

Australian Federal Police have said they are investigating the incident.

National Cyber Security Coordinator Darren Goldie said on X on Sunday that the company has told the government any disruption to port operations is "likely to be a number of days, rather than weeks".

"DP World's IT system remains disconnected from the internet, significantly impacting their operations," he added. Despite the disruption, the port operator is able to "access sensitive freight if necessary -- for example, in a medical emergency," Goldie also said.

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