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Aussie Spies Spooked By Cyberwar 72

An anonymous reader writes "Wikileaks cables released overnight revealed that Australia's top cyber spy agency (akin to the NSA) was unprepared for cyberwar in the view of other intelligence agencies in 2008. Australian agencies were so concerned they asked US intelligence to provide the framework to defend the country's critical information infrastructure, modelling on the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative. Spooks also discussed how Israel was preparing to take down Iran's nuclear program and how to stay relevant when so much information that was classified was now open source and available to anyone."
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Aussie Spies Spooked By Cyberwar

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  • We have the only submarines on the planet that can be heard from Alpha Centauri. It's not surprising we're sh*t-scared of cyberwar.
    • by naz404 ( 1282810 ) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @01:52AM (#34570756) Homepage
      Uhh... Does this mean Australia could have been taken down by Anonymous? They should have asked for help from Amazon instead :P
      • by dwarfsoft ( 461760 ) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @01:53AM (#34570764) Homepage

        Australia would freely admit that they could be taken down by Anonymous, and therefore Anonymous would leave us alone.

        It's only if we were to taunt them that we would be in real trouble...

      • Anonymous seems to mostly go for websites, however (although they did manage to take out Mastercard's transaction server, which was an interesting touch).

        If they only went for Australian government websites, it's no big loss. I don't know why the press went so nuts last year when the Dept of Comms webserver went down - meh, it's hardly important.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It is more serious than that.

        Some of the actual details of Australia's "unpreparedness" are common knowledge trhought the industry at least in telecoms. 2008 is _AFTER_ the disastrous outsourcing of most of the backroom functions of Telstra to Satyam.

        It is a very rude awakening for the so called security forces to suddenly wake up and realise that the switch for the nation's communications infrastructure is located in company in another country, that company is a fraud and on top of that key functions have

      • Chicken: these wolves have freaked out, they can creep in and kill us any time they want! Sheep, you got any ideas?
        Sheep: The trick is to stand perfectly still at all times.
    • Actually I think the subs are pretty good. Didn't they pwn a US carrier fleet a few years back? But I wouldn't trust the DSD to secure my backups or lock my front door. That would be silly. Describing them as our top cyber spy agency is a bit like describing the Victorian public transport corporation as our top electronic ticketing agency.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        They are quite good. They had a few very expensive glitches when they started out, predominately computer related if memory serves me correctly, however the subs are very quiet even with being one of the largest, if not the largest, diesel electrics in the world.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Actually I think the subs are pretty good. Didn't they pwn a US carrier fleet a few years back?

        What, during the US-Australia War of 2006?

    • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @03:06AM (#34571074)
      The subs are expensive things that whoever is in opposition likes to complain about and whoever is in government likes to use for pork. Minor problems were blown out of proportion, sometimes even after they had been fixed. Then there were things like expensive modifications were done to allow for extremely dodgy procurement deals which kept the subs out of the water. "Free trade" talks with the USA were not going well and it was difficult to get access to some people in US government, then suddenly there was a plan to buy a lot of surplus torpedoes of a size nobody makes anymore and modify the subs so that they will fit. The talks then went ahead and it was a problem for a later government to modify the subs again once that lot of torpedoes is unusable.
      It's not just subs, there was the purchase of the sprightly old Sea Sprites which were not safe to fly over water and had been considered obsolete in the 1970s. It had to be corruption because stupidity of that level would be inconsistant with making it to an adult age alive.
      • The problems with Australia's Defence procurement aren't due to corruption, but systemic managerial incompetence, paired with a continuing parade of Defence ministers who believe anything said incompetent managers tell them.
    • since when did the DSD become the main stay of our internet security, and why the hell are we asking americans for help with internet security?
  • In retrospect... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 ) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @01:47AM (#34570724) Homepage

    ...asking the US for tips on information security wasn't probably the best idea.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      If you compare the news article to the secret document released, the journalist really, really stretched one paragraph. To quote "Australian intelligence would need to stay engaged with its US counterparts to share lessons learned in the cyber arena", certainly the US has demonstrated many things not to do and Australian Intelligence has likely learned from them.

      Likely Australia is far better off expanding the role of ACMA [], to investigate 'cybercrime' and make

      • Sorry but we don't need ANOTHER group with idiotic authorities. The typical evolution of the idea would be:

        1. ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority - the FCC of Australia) starts investigating cybercrime.
        2. ACMA lobbies government for more powers to more effectively investigate cybercrime.
        3. ACMA granted powers to wiretap in the name of national security.
        4. ACMA lobbied by the ARIA (Australian Record Industry Association - self explanatory) to investigate copyright infringement.
        5. ???
        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          The idea is ACMA remains civilian and thus is a more acceptable place of employment for computer geeks and nerds, rather than the authoritarian structure of military and police forces. So the only thing the do is investigate and analyse system break-ins and suspicion of system break ins, as well as of course assist in the design of secure system.

          The warrants, wire taps et al are still done by the same authorities they just go to ACMA for the technical resource. The main reason to do it that what, is pure

          • This is a confusing point of view. The ACMA is no different than the police forces. It's the same governmental bureaucracy. The only difference is that there's more of it if you create yet another department with yet more paperwork.

            What makes you think that one place is or isn't an acceptable workplace, and that they can or can't foster the correct training environment? It's all a matter of technical knowhow, and the only thing I can see is downsides given how the AFP is already set up for this kind of
      • by deniable ( 76198 )
        ASIO is internal only. You may have meant ASIS. The AFP are already doing the cyber-crime thing although some of their budget may have gone to the filter. DSD runs government IT security but they may get replaced by whatever the AusCERT replacement morphs into.
    • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) * on Thursday December 16, 2010 @03:45AM (#34571232) Journal
      At least the US knows where to find the documents, one of our MP's is still trying to locate them [].
  • " stay relevant when so much information that was classified was now open source and available to anyone."

    They are now in much the same situation with cables such as this being "open source and available to anyone".

  • Heh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @01:47AM (#34570728)

    Spooks also discussed how Israel was preparing to take down Iran's nuclear program and how to stay relevant when so much information that was classified was now open source and available to anyone.

    Well, they got *that* part right.

    • by volpe ( 58112 )

      Spooks also discussed how Israel was preparing to take down Iran's nuclear program and how to stay relevant when so much information that was classified was now open source and available to anyone.

      Well, they got *that* part right.

      They did? What part did they get right? The part about "open source" being synonymous with "leaked"? Or the part about classified information no longer being classified once it's leaked?

  • Analysts were required to be efficient intelligence processing units whose effectiveness was "determined by the speed and efficiency by which [they] can sift through the volume to highlight 'what is important' and put it into context for decision makers"

    Perl []

  • are you right wing americans happy now ? peace ?
  • MHO of what you need to commit cyber crime with impunity in Australia is; a computer and Internet access. As long as you are not a total moron, I think it would be very difficult for the AG to win a case without substantial (FBI) international help.
  • I'm not sure why this is news? They realized a weakness and asked someone they thought had more knowledge for help. Thats what I EXPECT them to do.

    When I know I'm out of my league and well beyond my knowledge base I ask someone else who's been doing it longer or more for some input.

    Go on ya, Aussies, hope we gave you something useful. Maybe one day you can return the favor for some of the things you're better than us at.

    As the song goes, Thats what friends are for.

    • except that the "more knowledgable expert", has had their power grid given the how you doing
      Their pentagon email routed to another country and have their confidential files published on the internet.

      kind of like going to a boxer that mike tyson (in his prime), wiped the floor with and asking him to train you .....
      asking GM how to run a successful car making company

  • sure we can detect one's unawareness from amount of abuse of the prefix CYBER

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye