Wednesday, May 29, 2013

ABC Four Corners on Cyber-attacks in Australia

ABC Four Corners report "Hacked!" (27th May at 8.30pm on ABC1), alleged that Chinese military hackers were targeting Australian Government departments and corporations to steal secrets and business information. The program contained little hard evidence or new information. One allegation, that the plans to the new ASIO headquarters had been stolen to assist penetration of the building was new, but not particularly significant. However, the program will be useful if it prompts the Australian Government to restart its dormant work on public cyber security policy.

One curious segment of the program had a private security consultant asked if the Australia was preparing for offensive cyber-warfare, that is preparing to attack,. not just defence. The consultant hedged around the question, hinting but not answering clearly.

This reluctance to answer the question is at odds with a media release from Northrop Grumman in 2012 which announced it was building a cyber test range at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) in Canberra, to train defence force personnel. A cyber range is analogous to a test range for conventional weapons: the cyber range is used to test cyber warfare techniques, which can be both defensive and offensive. I attended a presentation to the Australian Computer Society, 13 March 2013, where one of the staff from Northrop Grumman gave a presentation on the cyber range.

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