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NZ 'prevented harm being done' by state-backed hacks - PM

New Zealand's spy agencies have had to take action to stop hacking attacks by foreign powers from doing harm here, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

Leaders from four of the Five Eyes nations - Australia's Malcolm Turnbull, Britain's Theresa May, Canada's Justin Trudeau and New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern - meet in London. Photo: Pool

The Prime Minister is in London for meetings with European leaders, and joined a meeting of the Five Eyes countries today.

Russia has this week been identified by the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia as being behind hacking attacks targeting internet infrastructure.

Speaking after the meeting, Ms Ardern talked about hacking attacks made against New Zealand by state actors, or sponsored by state actors.

She echoed the comments made by GCSB director Andrew Hampton yesterday noting that of the 396 serious hacking incidents the bureau identified last year 122 as having markers pointing to them being by foreign states.

"We continue to take those on a case-by-case basis," she said.

"What's important is that we continue to be agile enough to respond and prevent harm being done, but there is no doubt that Russia is a part of that."

She said New Zealand had already moved to prevent such hacks from doing damage both domestically and overseas.

"We've already had a solid basis of action in New Zealand, we use the information we have to make sure that those technical advisories are shared with those who need to know so that they're able to pre-empt the damage that can be done by these cyber attacks.

"So that's enabled us as a country to take action that's prevented harm being done and we'll keep doing that."

She would not say whether New Zealand had been specifically affected by the Russia hack noting only that there had been one recent threat linked to Russia, likely referring to the NotPetya attack which international partners have attributed to the Russian government.

"We've been very specific about the ... cases where we have directly attributed [hacks to state actors] and there has been a case this year where there has been action about a particular cyber threat, and in the past there's also been attribution by others around a North Korean threat.

"We have been in a place to take preventative action and I think that speaks to the role that our cyber security agencies play but also their contact with those that might be affected.

"We do have to make sure that we continue to be vigilant because prevention will always prevent some of that harm.

"There's only been a few rare cases for any of us actually to make direct attribution to particular countries over them."

She refused to say more about the Five Eyes meeting than that it focused around the need to maintain a rules-based world order.


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