Australian security service busy fending hostile cyber probes

A sharp increase in cyber attacks including internet probes by “hostile foreign intelligence services” marked the busiest year since 2005 for the country’s peak security service, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.ASIO’s annual report to federal parliament released yesterday, cited “new layers of complexity” to the standard fare of terrorism threats, espionage and foreign interference.
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,26270234-5013404,00.htmlAlso see:ASIO Report to Parliament 2008-09 [news release]The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s (ASIO) Report to Parliament 2008-09 was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday 27 October 2009. The report is an unclassified version of a highly sensitive report the Organisation presents annually to the Attorney-General.ASIO is the only intelligence agency in Australia that produces a public annual report. Although operational and other sensitive information has been removed, ASIO’s unclassified annual report provides a unique insight into the Organisation and its activities.In his executive review, Director-General of Security, David Irvine, said the year had seen the most intense period of ASIO operational activity since 2005 – “ASIO detected and responded to a new alleged domestic terrorist cell, and the extent of Internet-enabled espionage as a rapidly growing threat to the national interest became more apparent”.The Director-General said in his review that terrorists continue to adapt their tactics for strategic impact and in response to hardened security measures. Attacks in Mumbai and elsewhere – and the need again this year for preventive action in Australia – were sobering reminders for all Australians of the danger of complacency when it comes to terrorism.On Threats and the Security Environment, the ASIO report says new layers of complexity were added to the threats from terrorism, espionage and foreign interference. East Africa, Somalia in particular, joined the Middle East and South Asia as the primary sources of motivation and capability for extremists in Australia. The threat of hostile intelligence services exploiting Australian information systems was brought into sharper focus during the year, with traditional espionage methods supplemented by new high-technology techniques. ASIO found further evidence of hostile intelligence agencies using the Internet as a means of appropriating confidential Australian Government and business information.The Director-General of Security said ASIO’s response to e-espionage was a joint effort with other Australian national security agencies – “Whereas our focus was once on nation states and their human agents, the threat is now more varied and today’s response requires high-technology to be joined with traditional tradecraft”.From its work in preventing terrorism, ASIO has developed a deep understanding of the factors that lead some people to violent extremism and this knowledge is contributing to broader government strategies.2008-09 was a busy year for ASIO. In addition to its operational and investigative work, ASIO published 2,738 reports and assessments for more than 80 Commonwealth and state and territory government customers. It completed 59,884 visa security assessments, 65,110 counter-terrorism checks and 21,699 personnel security assessments. Working closely with others, ASIO helped ensure events such as World Youth Day 2008, Sydney, occurred without security incident.ASIO is nearing the end of a program to build capability across the Organisation by increasing staff, enhancing information technology and developing intelligence-specific expertise. By 30 June 2009 the Organisation’s workforce was 1,690. ASIO invested over $10m in training to ensure staff are well-skilled and prepared to counter threats to security.
http://www.asio.gov.au/Publications/Content/CurrentAnnualReport/Content/Cover.aspx

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