ASIO blueprints hacked, claims Four Corners



blog The ABC’s flagship investigative show Four Corners doesn’t precisely have the best record when it comes to reporting on IT security breaches; on several occasions over the past several years, the program has published allegations of serious IT security break-ins at major Australian organisations, but without substantiating the claims. In addition, Four Corners has also previously worked with the Australian Federal Police to film raids on Australian Internet fraudsters — raids which eventually resulted in no arrests being made. The show’s coverage of the issue has also typically been accompanied with the kind of overly dramatic music and visuals which non-technical people associate with “hacking”. You know the kind of thing I mean.

However, to the extent that you still trust Four Corners’ reporting on the IT security scene, the program last night made a somewhat audacious claim: That international interests had successfully stolen the blueprints for the new Canberra headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). The full program’s available online, and ABC News has also gone big on the issue. The ABC reports (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“Classified blueprints of the new ASIO headquarters in Canberra have been stolen in a cyber hit believed to have been mounted by hackers in China.”

And there’s also a separate article with feedback from various politicians and other interested parties; most of whom are urging the Federal Government to “come clean” on the issue:

[Greens Leader] Christine Milne has described the breach as a “security blunder of epic proportions”. “It’s not only ASIO, it’s Defence as well,” she said. “The Government does need to answer some questions about how something as basic as building plans with a builder [could be taken].

We haven’t yet caught up with the Four Corners episode in person, owing to some renovation work we were doing on Delimiter last night. But we’re sure quite a few readers tuned in. With this in mind we’d like to ask: Was the Four Corners episode persuasive on the issue of the ASIO hack? Did the program present more evidence when it comes to IT security matters? Let us know your thoughts. This would, after all, be pretty embarassing for ASIO if it turned out to be true. It’s not that we have any love for the spy agency — given its habit of wanting ubiquitous access to private Australian telecommunications. But it’s not a good look for such a key plank of Australia’s defence to be so open to attack from overseas.


  1. Haven’t seen the report, but from what I’ve seen, comms security in Defence (& I presume ASIO) is less reliant on security by obscurity, and more on controlling physical access to the infrastructure and making tampering easily detected (e.g. transparent cable ducting & junction boxes). So if it was just building plans, it’s much less of an issue – the architects, builders, and most subbies would have had access to those. You don’t need a Secret access clearance to see them, though I don’t know what classification level they’d have.

  2. Must pop over to iview later (I guess its up there?), but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was true, after all, ASIO probably rely on DSD to protect their systems, and we aaaallllllllllll know how clevvvvveeeerrrr DSD are ;)

  3. I watched last night. Most of the report was about the company Codan being hacked, and the ASIO blueprints being stolen (two separate issues).

    Codan seems to have security, but one of their sales guys used an unprotected wifi in China and got malwared, and subsequently they lost some Intellectual Property. What a shock.

    The ASIO blueprints were stolen (allegedly) from a building contractor working on the new ASIO site. So it’s not like ASIO systems themselves were hacked.

    • DSD cound’t stop a 10yo with notebook in surburban Melbourne, how can they stop something that any foreign state sanctioned with the funds and computing power available to them. it’s time they were overhauled, and replaced by people who know what they are doing.

  4. It would be a real gift to those responsible for producing and disseminating disinformation if the Four Corners story were true. However, the story itself could be disinformation. It’s hard to tell in a wilderness of mirrors.

Comments are closed.