DP World has restricted "landside access" to its Australian port operations [Stock image used for illustrative purposes only] Image Credit: Supplied

Australian authorities are investigating a "nationally significant" cyber attack that shuttered several ports run by DP World Australia and warned that the interruption could last days and affect trade shipments.

The government convened a crisis meeting on Saturday to coordinate its response to the hack, which was detected Friday and led DP World to limit access to four of Australia's largest ports. National Cybersecurity Coordinator Darren Goldie said agencies will gather again Sunday and work with the company to resume operations.

"Our priority is to assist DP World Australia to resolve the incident, so they are in a position to restore access to the ports they operate across the country," Goldie said in posts on social network X. "This interruption is likely to continue for a number of days and will impact the movement of goods into and out of the country."

DP World said it detected an "intrusion" into its system on Friday and immediately disconnected internet connectivity, the Australian Financial Review reported, citing a company statement. While that stopped unauthorized access into its network, it also led to "key systems which underpin operations at their Australian ports not functioning normally," the company said.

The port closures in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle threaten to hobble supply chains, which are yet to recover fully from the effects of the pandemic. 

The company did not reply to emails or phone calls from Bloomberg News requesting comment outside of regular business hours.

DP World said its actions were "necessary to contain the incident and minimize the impact on their employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders," the AFR reported. The company is working with authorities and stakeholders to ensure "sensitive inbound freight can be prioritized and retrieved," the paper said.

The Australian Cyber Security Center is working with DP World and is providing technical advice and assistance, Goldie said. Meetings earlier involved the National Coordination Mechanism and the National Emergency Management Agency to "consider and address impacts arising from the cyber incident," he said. Australia's government called a crisis meeting as a cyber attack affecting some ports threatens to hobble supply chains already ensnared in a strike by workers seeking better wages.

Authorities are coordinating a response to an incident that's embroiled ports run by DP World Australia, according to Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil. DP World shut down four ports in Australia due to a cybersecurity incident detected late Friday, the Australian Financial Review reported, citing the company.

"The government is receiving regular briefings and is working with DP World Australia to understand the impacts of this incident and enable engagement across government," O'Neil, who also oversees cyber security, said in posts on social network X. The coordination includes a meeting of the National Coordination Mechanism, she said.

The Australian Cyber Security Center is working with DP World and is providing technical advice and assistance as needed, O'Neil said.