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.