ASIO creates cyber espionage unit

ASIO creates cyber espionage unit

Summary: A new cyber-espionage watchdog has been created within the the nation's chief spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), to be officially announced by the Attorney-General tonight.

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TOPICS: Security
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A new cyber-espionage watchdog has been created within the the nation's chief spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), to be officially announced by the Attorney-General tonight.

The intelligence unit has been set up to monitor espionage attempts against Australian national security interests, and will release alerts to agencies and critical infrastructure owners in a manner similar to the tacit role of the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) Australia.

"ASIO's close cooperation with CERT Australia and the [Defence Department's Cyber Security Operations Centre] seeks to identify developing threats and determine appropriate responses," Attorney-General Robert McClelland will say in a speech to be delivered tonight.

"For this reason, ASIO has also established a specialist cyber investigations unit to investigate and provide advice on state-sponsored cyber attacks against, or involving, Australian interests."

However, while the unit will monitor for espionage targeting the private sector, it will not help businesses under cyber attack, according to the Attorney General's Department. This is in line with comments from the Attorney-General's Department first assistant secretary for the National Security Resilience Policy Division Mike Rothery that the Federal Government will not assist businesses affected by hacking or denial-of-service attacks.

The unit, reported by Fairfax, to have been created some nine months ago, is the latest in a series of federal government initiatives to combat the purported threat of online attacks against national interests.

The government conducts regular online war games with allies under Cyber Storm, and shares online defence and critical information across agencies within the Department of Defence and the Federal Attorney-General's Department.

Topic: Security

Darren Pauli

About Darren Pauli

Darren Pauli has been writing about technology for almost five years, he covers a gamut of news with a special focus on security, keeping readers informed about the world of cyber criminals and the safety measures needed to thwart them.

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  • I wonder if the Attorney General, The Hon Robert McClelland MP, will be "red faced" when he finds out that his department's credit card was exposed on an Australian supplier's company extranet. The last four digits of the Attorney General Dept's card, xxxx xxxx xxxx 4251.

    Other credit cards belonging to Rio Tinto, Woodside, the RTA, CSIRO, DFAT, DoD, Telstra and more were also exposed. Simply typing in an IP address into a browser gave access to thousands of NGO and government credit cards and contact details.

    ASIO was alerted on March 13 2011, good timing. It will be an interesting case, mainly because you didn't need to be a hacker to browse the plethora of credit cards. I imagine that a whole bunch of government and private company credit cards are now in the process of being cancelled, bank statements audited and Barristers consulted...

    As far as the supplier is concerned... a classic case of ID-10T!
    Kase-47698