A Chinese database containing information on more than 35,000 Australians could be used to blackmail them, a cyber security expert has warned.
The database, leaked from Chinese company Zhenhua Data and is believed to be used by China’s intelligence service, includes business leader David Gonski, former foreign minister Bob Carr, former Labor MP Emma Husar and singer Natalie Imbruglia.
University of NSW Canberra cyber director Nigel Phair said Australians should not be surprised personal information scraped from social media accounts was being collated.
“Espionage has been around for a very very long time and why not need use the interwebs if you are a nation state,” Mr Phair said.
“What they want to do is find about people so they can get leverage on them.
“It’s good competitive intelligence to find out what people are like and what they do.”
Mr Phair warned influential Australians could be targeted by threats to reveal private information that could tarnish their reputation because not all would live a “completely virtuous life”.
“It’s not just the political class, it’s celebrities,” he said.
Mr Phair said foreign groups could say: “For me not to (release the compromising information), I want you to start stealing government secrets.”
“Particularly with people who are in positions of influence or power … if someone does come along and try to influence them trying to reveal information we need mechanisms in place so they cannot go down that path,” he said, adding self reporting was one method.