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Hackers target Ruddock's department

The federal Attorney General's Department has weathered more than one million hacking attempts over the last four years by not taking short-cuts in policy, its chief information officer said. Graham Fry cited the figure in a speech to an Australian Computer Society conference in Canberra in which he outlined ways he coped with the pressures and contradictions of servicing information policy developers.
Written by Steven Deare, Contributor on
The federal Attorney General's Department has weathered more than one million hacking attempts over the last four years by not taking short-cuts in policy, its chief information officer said.

Graham Fry cited the figure in a speech to an Australian Computer Society conference in Canberra in which he outlined ways he coped with the pressures and contradictions of servicing information policy developers.

"Much of my job is not good old-fashioned 'command and control' management," Fry said. "It is about influencing and being influenced.

"It is about delivering without some of the shortcuts that would make life simpler," he said.

"Security policy can be a nuisance, but despite our small size, we have survived well over a million hacking attempts in the time I have been at Attorney General's," he said.

Fry told ZDNet Australia today he suspected the figure of "over a million" hacks in the given time frame was "not that unusual" for a government department.

"I suspect it's a bit higher because of our associations with various areas of policy, but I'd say it's on the high-side of normal. It's not outstanding."

The Attorney-General's information technology infrastructure holds various levels of government security accreditation in line with government security standards and the department plays a major role in critical infrastructure protection measures.

The department -- which supports Attorney-General Philip Ruddock and the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison -- covers a host of high-profile responsibilities, including human rights, freedom of information, legal aid, native title and counter-terrorism capabilities.

In his speech, entitled Working on Both Sides of the Counter: The dilemma of servicing information policy developers, Fry outlined a series of initiatives he had undertaken to improve the management of information technology within the department and forge closer relationships with other divisions.

This greater trust - developed by measures such as publishing a performance account to the department every six months and sitting on its executive committee -- had led to the information technology group taking on a more prominent role in representing the department externally, he said.

"We are taking a lead role with the state/Commonwealth disaster management portal," Fry said.

"We have been asked increasingly to represent policy interests at the federal government's CIO committee.

"Two-thirds of my technical staff are deployed during the two multi-jurisdictional counter-terrorism exercises (Mercury '04 and Mercury '05).

"We are frequently asked to attend industry consultation and inter-departmental committees to assist with technical policy issues".

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