Chinese hackers ‘stole blueprints’ of Australian spy agency’s new HQ

ASIO's new headquartersBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Chinese government hackers allegedly stole the master blueprints and other highly classified technical information relating to the new headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). The state-of-the-art building, which is located at the shore of Lake Burley Griffin in Australian capital Canberra, has so far cost taxpayers in excess of AUD $631 million (US $608 million). Although it remains under construction, the new headquarters is said to feature the most sophisticated security features of any government building in Canberra. But a report aired on May 28 by Australian television’s Four Corners investigative program, alleged that a Chinese government agency managed to steal the building’s blueprints. The program claimed that the highly classified blueprints were stolen when hackers mounted a sophisticated cyberattack on a private-sector contractor involved in constructing the ASIO’s new headquarters. Four Corners suggested that the cyberattack, which was “traced to a server in China”, also compromised the building’s communications diagram, server locations and physical security systems. The revelation will undoubtedly add to the stream of public criticism about the project, which has been severely plagued by budget increases and construction delays. As recently as 2010, the government was insisting that the project was “progressing on time and on budget, with completion scheduled for mid-2012”. Today, however, the building’s budget has gone over by AUD $171 million and the building is expected to open its doors no earlier than the fall of 2013, with some commentators suggesting that it could be 2014 before ASIO’s personnel are able to start moving in. The Four Courners report alleged that the hacking incident may be partly responsible for the mounting delays in the project’s completion. The program hosts the view of leading Australian cybersecurity expert Dr. Des Ball, who argues that the theft of the blueprints might force the government to cancel the project and begin building a new headquarters from scratch. Speaking earlier today, Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bob Carr said that the Four Courners report would not affect Canberra’s ties with Beijing. He told reporters that the allegations made in the television program –which he refused to confirm or deny– had “no implications” for Australia’s “enormous areas of co-operation with China”.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

5 Responses to Chinese hackers ‘stole blueprints’ of Australian spy agency’s new HQ

  1. Pete says:

    @Joseph

    A mighty rapid and accurate post.

    Severe egg on the Australian Government’s face but you gotta hand it to China’s professionally devious approach.

    Looking at the transcript of the Four Corners show http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2013/05/27/3766576.htm Professor Des Ball said concerning China stealing the new ASIO building blueprints: “At this stage with construction nearly completed you have two options. One is to accept it ah, and practice utmost sensitivity even within your own headquarters. The other which the Americans had to do with their new embassy in Washington ah, their new embassy in Moscow back in the ah late 70s and early 80s was to rip the whole insides out and to ah start again. The British had to do that with several buildings in London.”

    The same sought of renovating-rebuilding apparently happened to the Chinese Embassy in Canberra http://www.fas.org/irp/world/australia/asio-hist.htm “In 1990, it was learned that the ASIS, along with the help of 30 NSA technicians, had bugged the Chinese Embassy in Canberra. The story had originally been picked up by an Australian newspaper but ASIS asked them to sit on it. Shortly thereafter, the Associated Press also picked up the story and ASIS also got them to sit on the story. But somehow, the story made its way to Time magazine, where it was published, compromising the operation.”

    Sweet revenge by China? And how much will Russia pay China for the ASIO building blueprints?

  2. Its not too hard to get blueprints of any Intelligence HQ, originals that is, its much harder to get details of works that go on after the HQ’s are built, the new U.S Embassy at Ninelms in London is an example as many of the details have to go for planning approval and specialist bonded M.O.D firms are either brought in to build or security screened professionals work on the building.

  3. TFH says:

    “Chinese government hackers allegedly stole the master blueprints and other highly classified technical information relating to the new headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).”

    There is no stealing of information in espionage, they obtained it. Just as CIA would obtain info on China but never steal it. China was better at its job than the Australian service, suck it up.

  4. mopsie says:

    i approve of this! as long as the spies keep going in circles, spying on other spies, the rest of us may be ok.
    but somehow it seems like such an irrational way to live..

  5. TFH says:

    @mopsie: But then the spies take over the top positions, Putin in one good example, Bush and Bush Jr. another, Cameron was PR guy in his former life, that’s not far from getting diplomats drunk in Brussels.

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