How ‘sophisticated’ foreign spies are targeting Aussies
THE threat to Australians' way of life "is more real today" than ever, as the top cyber spy chief warns foreign agents are recruiting Aussies to target their own country at just the touch of their mobile phones.
In a stark address, Australian Signals Directorate boss Rachel Noble will today use a rare speech to warn against the unprecedented cyber threats facing the nation and the need to muscle up against the shadowy adversaries who have been growing more sophisticated.
"We want them to think that we are their worst nightmare in the hope that they will be deterred from their actions in the first place," she will say.
"We are in a near impossible game. The threat to our way of life is more real today than at any time I have known in my career."
The spy chief, who was appointed to the head of the intelligence in charge of foreign threats in December last year, has been working in intelligence since the early 1990s when she was a code cracker.
Just in June Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a press conference to reveal "state-based actor with very, very significant capabilities" had been launching cyber attacks against Australian government entities and businesses, with the blame largely attributed to China.
Threats are not only coming from foreign powers, but "low-life criminals", Ms Noble will say.
"(They are) now targeting not just governments and the military, but our private sector, small business, families and individuals," she will say.
"Posing such threats was once the remit of only great and powerful state actors, now it is the remit of anyone with a mobile phone."
ASD, which specialises in both intelligence gathering overseas but also its own cyber attacks against foreign threats, cannot conduct mass surveillance against Australians at home.
But she will warn against the homegrown threat operating overseas who are being targeted by the agency, saying "not all Australians are the good guys".
"Some Australians are agents of foreign power. Some Australians are terrorists. Some Australians are spies who are cultivated by foreign powers and are not on our side."
She will say that the ASD's capabilities are "unique in the world" but must remain secret to effectively protect Australia against sophisticated adversaries.
"Our edge is based on them being unsure about what we might actually be able to do," Ms Noble will say.
"Transparency is important but not at the expense of us losing the very capability that we use to keep Australia safe."
Originally published as How 'sophisticated' foreign spies are targeting Aussies