Chinese hackers ‘stole blueprints’ of Australian spy agency’s new HQ
May 28, 2013 5 Comments
By 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”.