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The 20 people who USA President Donald Trump turns to & are not in the White House

Washington: Relationships have always been President Donald Trump’s currency and comfort, helping him talk his way into real estate deals over three decades in New York.

Those who know him best say that his outer confidence has always belied an inner uncertainty, and that he needs to test ideas with a wide range of people.

As Trump’s White House advisers jostle for position, the president has turned to another group of advisers – from family, real estate, media, finance and politics, and all outside the White House gates – many of whom he consults at least once a week.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is on the phone every week, encouraging Trump when he’s low and arguing that he should focus on the economy rather than detouring to other issues.

Developer Richard LeFrak is a soothing voice who listens to Trump’s complaints that cost estimates for the border wall with Mexico are too high. Sean Hannity tells the president that keeping promises on core Republican issues is crucial.

Trump’s West Wing aides, like President Bill Clinton’s staff two decades before, say they sometimes cringe at the input from people they can’t control, with consequences they can’t predict. Knowing these advisers – who are mostly white, male and older – is a key to figuring out the words coming from Trump’s mouth and his Twitter feed.


Here, based on interviews with more than a dozen friends, top aides and advisers inside and outside the White House, are 20 of Trump’s outside touchstones:

The Mogul

Rupert Murdoch

Trump’s relationships depend on two crucial measures: Personal success and loyalty to him. Murdoch excels in both categories. His New York Post vaulted Trump from local housing developer to gossip-page royalty, and his Fox News Channel was pro-Trump in the 2016 general election.

The two share preferences for transactional tabloid journalism and never giving in to critics. (Trump said fallen Fox star Bill O’Reilly should not have settled sexual harassment complaints.)

The president’s relationship with Murdoch is deeper and more enduring than most in his life, and in their calls they commiserate and plot strategy, according to people close to both.

Murdoch even called the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, to buck him up after Spicer was savaged for a remark about Adolf Hitler.

Media baron Rupert Murdoch, pictured with Ivanka Trump

The Media

Sean Hannity

Presidents always deploy surrogates to appear on television to spout their talking points, but Trump has expanded on that by developing relationships with sympathetic media figures like Hannity who also serve as advisers.

Hannity, the Fox News host, defends Trump’s most controversial behaviour in public, but privately, according to people close to Trump, he urges the president not to get distracted, and advises him to focus on keeping pledges such as repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Chris Ruddy

The chief executive of Newsmax Media is a longtime Mar-a-Lago member and was a Trump cheerleader among conservative media well before the website Breitbart joined the parade. He employs writers and editors who tracked Trump’s career when they were at The New York Post. He recently visited the Oval Office, and he and Trump kibitz in Florida and by phone.

The Lawyer

Sheri Dillon

Dillon seemed out of place when she spoke at a too-large lectern in the lobby of Trump Tower on January 11, describing the steps Trump planned to take to separate himself from his business.

But Dillon, an ethics lawyer who worked out a highly criticised plan for Trump to retain ownership of his company but step back from running it, has repeatedly counseled the president about the business and made at least one White House visit. (Michael Cohen, a veteran Trump aide, has been serving as his personal lawyer.)

Campaign Advisers

Corey Lewandowski

Despite his “you’re fired” slogan, the president dislikes dismissing people. Lewandowski, Trump’s hot-tempered first campaign manager, was fired last June but never really went away.

A New England-bred operative whose working-class roots and clenched-teeth loyalty earned him Trump’s trust, he continued to be in frequent phone contact with Trump until the election and beyond.

Friends of Lewandowski say that he can see the windows of the White House residence from his lobbying office on Pennsylvania Avenue, and that the view is even better during his visits to the West Wing, including when the New England Patriots were at the White House in the past week.

Newt Gingrich

The former House speaker talks more with Trump’s top advisers than he does with the president, but his presence permeates the administration. Gingrich’s former spokesman is at the State Department, and two former advisers work in the West Wing.

Gingrich has relentlessly promoted Trump’s policy adviser, Stephen Miller, as the West Wing conservative ballast as the chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, has been under fire.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich. Photo: AP

Childhood Friend

Richard LeFrak

Their fathers were developers together in New York, and the two men have been friends for decades. LeFrak is a Mar-a-Lago member, and he agreed to be part of an infrastructure effort that Trump hopes to put forward. Trump has turned to him to vent frustrations about the slow pace of bureaucracy.

The Peers

Thomas Barrack

Trump divides the people around him into broad categories: family, paid staff and wealthy men like Barrack whom he considers peers.

A sunny and loyal near-billionaire who has socialised with the president for years, Barrack is less a strategic adviser than a trusted moneyman, fixer and sounding board who often punctuated his emails to Trump with exhortations like “YOU ROCK!” He has urged Trump to avoid needless, distracting fights.

Under Barrack’s leadership, Trump’s inaugural committee raised a record $US106.7 million ($141.4 million), much of it from big corporations, banks and Republican megadonors like Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Barrack also helped usher Paul Manafort, the international political operative under scrutiny for his ties to Russia, into the Trump fold last year. The velvet-voiced Barrack does not seek out attention for himself, one of the most important and elusive qualities by which the president judges people.

Stephen Schwarzman

The chairman and chief executive of the Blackstone Group, Schwarzman is the head of Trump’s economic advisory council. He and the president don’t speak daily, West Wing aides said, but do talk frequently.

Schwarzman has counselled him on a number of topics, including advising him to leave in place President Barack Obama’s executive order shielding young undocumented immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” from deportation.

Steve Roth

A good way to get on Trump’s side is to do a deal with him, particularly if it means rescuing him from his own financial crisis. That’s what real estate tycoon Steve Roth did a decade ago when he bought out Trump’s share in a New York City real estate deal that went sour.

Roth, head of Vornado Realty Trust and a longtime Democratic donor, also helped Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, when he injected $80 million into 666 Fifth Avenue, a Kushner family property in danger of defaulting on $US1.1 billion in loans. Trump speaks with Roth frequently, and is leaning on him to help develop a trillion-dollar infrastructure package expected this year.

Phil Ruffin

Trump has 20-odd business partners, but none is closer to him than Ruffin, 82, a Texas billionaire who has lent his ear and private jet.

The president was best man at the 2008 wedding of Ruffin to his third wife, a 26-year-old model and former Miss Ukraine. Ruffin has a knack for showing up when Trump needs him most and remains a die-hard defender.

“This stuff about him having financial investments all over Russia – that’s just pure crap,” Ruffin told Forbes. “I went to Russia with him. We took my airplane. We were having lunch with one of the oligarchs there. No business was discussed.”

Carl Icahn

Rounding out Trump’s roster of wealthy octogenarians is this 81-year-old corporate raider and real estate mogul who occupies perhaps the most respected perch in the president’s circle of businessmen buddies.

The affection is long-standing: The New York-bred Icahn has known Trump and his family for decades.

It’s also numerical: Icahn is worth an estimated $16 billion, a major plus in the eyes of a president who keeps score. Icahn serves as a free-roving economic counsellor and head of Trump’s effort to reduce government regulations on business.

Man of Mystery

Roger Stone

Few alliances in politics are as complicated as the 40-year relationship between the Nixon-tattooed Stone and Trump. Stone won’t say how frequently they speak these days, but he shares the president’s tear-down-the-system impulses and is ubiquitous on cable, on radio and on the website InfoWarsnews defending Trump.

The Clubgoers

Ike Perlmutter

Perlmutter, the chief executive of Marvel Comics who is so reclusive that few public photographs exist of him, has been informally advising Trump on veterans issues. The two men are old friends, and Perlmutter has been a presence at Mar-a-Lago club.

Robert Kraft

The owner of the Patriots is a Democrat but his loyalty to Trump, Kraft once said, dates partly to the president’s thoughtfulness when Kraft’s father died. Trump loved talking about the Patriots during the campaign, and Kraft has been a Mar-a-Lago presence since the transition.

The First Lady

Melania Trump

Melania Trump is uninterested in the limelight, but she has remained a powerful adviser by telephone from New York. Among her roles: giving the president feedback on media coverage, counselling him on staff choices and urging him, repeatedly, to tone down his Twitter feed. Lately, he has listened closely and has a more disciplined Twitter finger.

US first lady Melania Trump. Photo: AP

The Governor

Chris Christie

Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and palace gatekeeper, has shown a capacity to hobble his rivals, but few have been finished off. The most durable has been Christie, whose transition planning, several West Wing aides now concede, should not have been discarded. He has been a frequent Oval Office visitor and has worked with the White House on the opioid addiction crisis.

The Speaker

Paul Ryan

Trump and the clean-cut and wonky Wisconsinite aren’t exactly best friends forever. But their relationship is closer than in the bad old days of the 2016 campaign when Ryan delayed a hold-my-nose endorsement of Trump, whose morality he had long questioned. But as the president’s agenda passes through the razor-blade gantlet of the House, where Ryan faces the constant threat of opposition and overthrow, the two men have become foxhole buddies.

The Sons

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump

The two sons and the president insist they no longer discuss company business. But the family is close and Trump still speaks to his sons frequently, inquiring about their lives and searching for gut-checks on his own.

– The New York Times

Henry Sapiecha


Hi, folks!

Lots of policy changes in the cyber realm lately. Net neutrality is back again as an issue, but that’s been overshadowed by another topic in recent days. Before we get into that, though…

Still working on the report on closing. I’m trying to get permission to include something from a while back, which would be a cool addition.

That’s the problem with being involved in other people’s projects over such a long period. You know a lot of great stories, but some of them aren’t yours to tell.

I’ll keep my eyes crossed. (I need my fingers to type.

Also, before we get into the main bit, there’s something you should do if you use iCloud: Change your password.

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You’ve probably heard about the group that’s trying to blackmail Apple into paying them $75,000 in Bitcoin (or $100,000 in iTunes gift certificates) or they’ll delete everything in 300 million iCloud accounts on the 7th of this month.

While it appears to be a hoax, there is reason to believe they’ve acquired some legitimate passwords. Probably ones that are the same as those used on other services.

You know – like when your LinkedIn or Yahoo password is the same as the one you use for your iCloud or bank account?

No need to panic. Just change your password to be on the safe side. Use one you haven’t used for other services. And think about enabling 2-factor authentication, for added measure.


“ISPs Selling Your Data”

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Yeah. Big noise in the press on this, and rightly so. Tuesday it became official: The President signed a bill into law that scraps regulations preventing ISPs from selling your personal data. Including your browsing history.

Here’s the thing most people don’t get: This isn’t new. The law doesn’t let them do anything they couldn’t already. It just stops a pending prohibition on it from coming into effect.

The rationale presented by the bill’s supporters in Congress is just stupid. “We want to protect privacy, but we want everyone subject to the same regulations. So we’re going to eliminate the protections that had been developed.”

Sure. And they’re really likely to develop new ones later.

Don’t count on it.

Trying to explain to these folks that free and optional services like Facebook and Google are different from infrastructure systems you have to pay to use is pointless.

It’s tempting to blame the willful ignorance on campaign contributions, but the folks who voted against the bill got roughly the same amount as the ones who voted for it. So, it ain’t that.

This is all about who gets to control your information. Every detail of your private activities online.

I think that should be you.

Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T have all said they don’t sell this data and have no plans to do so. Which one should always translate as “but maybe later.”

AT&T was typically snarky in their comments. Someone really needs to explain to them that talking down to their customers isn’t an ideal strategy.

I think they’re still sore about the breakup.

To their credit, though, they’re also the only ones with a clear and simple “We won’t sell your personal information to anyone, for any reason” statement in their privacy policy.

What they might consider “personal information” is less clear.

Here’s a very rough analogy.

If you use some basic, if uncommon, security measures, Facebook can be like a really, really big restaurant. They can know everything you do and say while you’re there, but not much else.

Google is like a huge mall, with lots of security cameras. They can see and track what you do on their properties, and others that carry their cameras, but there are limits.

Your ISP, especially if it’s a cable company, can know almost everything. It’s like they can walk right into your house, peer through your blinds, see what mail you get, where you bank, what shows you watch, how many kids you have and their ages (and what sites they visit), who you talk to on the phone and for how long, who your kids talk to, what apps you use and on what devices, where you have accounts, where you shop online, when you’re planning vacations, when you’re not home, and so much more.

That’s just from the logs. No snooping involved and no real effort to mine and correlate the data. And you don’t have much choice in the matter.

Your ISP might only consider your name, address, and social security number to be personal, along with maybe medical info and data about minor children. Even then, there’s nothing preventing them from legally selling any of it they like.

Here’s the real kicker: The just-signed law also prevents them from being required to take steps to protect all that information.

cybersecurity=image www.intelagencies.comooo

Really. Even if they don’t abuse you themselves, they don’t have to do anything to keep you safe from hackers. Or tell you when your data is compromised.

Just let that sink in for a minute.
Now, suppose they sell it to a data aggregator. If you’re a guy, that’s like having your ex-wife, your new girlfriend, your mother, your 5th grade teacher, your boss, your doctor, and your best friend from high school all trading stories about you.

I’m sure there’s a similarly horrifying female equivalent.

Keep this all in mind the next time you’re tempted to say “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t have anything to hide.”

Maybe you don’t care about your privacy. That’s your business. But it doesn’t give you the right to go into someone else’s house and rip down their curtains.

Privacy isn’t about hiding. It’s about being allowed to mind your own business.
That’s what we’re going to talk about for the next few issues. How to increase your personal privacy online.

There are some things you ought to know before we get into that, though. The biggest being that the only certain way to avoid someone else getting private information is to keep it to yourself.

cyber-spy image

Anything can be hacked.  And anyone.

I’ll show you some tricks ranging from basic to mediocre, and I’ll give you the best advice or links I can, but there are risks with any of them. Things can change, and unknown exploits can be found. Previously benign companies can go over to the dark side.

As Pogo said, lo, these many years ago, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” User error always poses the greatest risk.

I’ll give you pointers that will help cut down the data you leave around and decentralize what you can’t eliminate. But I make no guarantees.

Anyone who promises you 100% security is either a liar or a fool.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there are always trade-offs. You have to decide which data is worth what level of expense or inconvenience to keep private.

Encrypting your phone slows down boot-up and makes it take longer to open when you need it. On the plus side, that and a good password ensures that random people won’t be able to get in if you lose it or it gets stolen. Or you just leave it on the table while you have company.

Using a VPN may keep your ISP from getting a lot of that data, but it could just be shuffling it to another seller, or slowing down your surfing.

Encrypted texting apps might require jumping through some hoops to make sure you’re sending only to the person you want, and they could limit who you protect conversations with. It can be easy to forget which of your friends are on “secure lines” and which aren’t.

The same is true of using encrypted email.

Using something like Tor to browse the web has its own risks. It opens new areas online, but some of those can be dangerous in themselves. And there’s speculation that simply installing it could attract notice by law enforcement.

If you aren’t doing anything wrong, that can be a good thing. There are those who believe that the best way to protect all our rights is to make the cost of spying on everyone too heavy. To have so many people using encryption and other systems that agencies are forced to take a more targeted approach to doing their jobs.

Always trade-offs.

I should also point out that the things I’ll cover are about increasing privacy, not gaining anonymity. That’s a whole other level of obfuscation. And none of this is meant to help you hide anything illegal.

That’s not the goal. More privacy is the goal.

In the meantime, think about what info you want to keep to yourself. If you have specific ideas, it will help you get more out of this.

And, if you have any specific questions on this, go to my website below

Until next time…

New cybersecurity inquiry launched

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The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit has launched an inquiry into Cybersecurity Compliance as part of its examination of Auditor-General reports. The Committee’s inquiry is based on the 2016-17 Auditor-General Report No. 42 Cybersecurity Follow-up Audit.

Committee Chair, Senator Dean Smith, said that, as Parliament’s joint public administration committee, the JCPAA has an important role in holding Commonwealth agencies to account.

“Cybersecurity is integral to protect Government systems and secure the continued delivery of Government business. Government entities are required to implement mitigation strategies to reduce the risk of cyber intrusions. The Committee is continuing its oversight of entities’ compliance with the mandated strategies with the launch of this Inquiry,” Senator Smith said.

The JCPAA is a central committee of the Parliament and has the power to initiate its own inquiries on the Commonwealth public sector. The Committee examines all reports of the Auditor-General tabled in the Parliament and can inquire into any items, matters or circumstances connected with these reports.

The Committee invites submissions to the inquiry by Thursday 27 April 2017, addressing the terms of reference. Further information about the inquiry can be accessed via the Committee’s website.

Media enquiries:
Chair, Senator Dean Smith, Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit
(08) 9481 0349 (Electorate office)
(02) 6277 3707 (Parliament House)

Committee Secretariat
(02) 6277 4615

Interested members of the public may wish to track the committee via the website. Click on the blue ‘Track Committee’ button in the bottom right hand corner and use the forms to login to My Parliament or to register for a My Parliament account.

Media release issue date: 7 April 2017


Henry Sapiecha

US indicts Insidious Russian spies, hackers over massive Yahoo hack attack on US data


Washington: The US government on Wednesday unsealed charges against two Russian spies and two criminal hackers for allegedly pilfering 500 million Yahoo user accounts in 2014,

The indictments, announced at a news conference in Washington, represent the first time the US government has criminally charged Russian officials for cyber offences.

The content of at least 30 million accounts were accessed as part of a spam campaign and that at least 18 people who used other internet service providers, such as Google, were also victimised, the government charged.

The officers of the FSB, Russia’s Federal Security Service, which is a successor to the KGB, were identified as Dmitry Dokuchaev and his superior, Igor Sushchin, the government said.

yahoo-logo image

Alexsey Belan, who is on the list of most-wanted cyber criminals, and Karim Baratov, who was born in Kazakhstan but has Canadian citizenship, were also named in the indictment.

The Justice Department said Baratov was arrested in Canada on Tuesday and that his case is now pending with Canadian authorities.

Belan was arrested in an European country in June 2013 but escaped to Russia before he could be extradited to the United States, according to the Justice Department.

“The criminal conduct at issue, carried out and otherwise facilitated by officers from an FSB unit that serves as the FBI’s point of contact in Moscow on cyber crime matters, is beyond the pale,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord.

Myth of the malware “silver bullet” is Busted

hack-attack-MALWARE IMAGE

The malware threat is undeniable. Especially with more sensitive data than ever traveling from cloud to endpoints and back again. And while “silver bullet” solutions might provide some relief, they can never protect your endpoints from increasingly sophisticated cybercriminals like a coordinated and integrated security platform can. Our dynamic endpoint threat defense solution combats emerging threats and dramatically simplifies your security operations. It’s also the only solution that delivers comprehensive endpoint security by combining traditional protection, machine learning analytics, and grayware containment, on day zero, and throughout the entire threat lifecycle






Henry Sapiecha

Machine learning can also aid the cyber enemy: Says NSA research chief

Smart cyber adversaries are starting to turn machine learning algorithms against the defence. But adversaries could be frustrated by deliberate cyber deception.

data-stealing-hand-representing-rookieai image

Machine learning is one of the biggest buzzwords in cybersecurity in 2017. But a sufficiently smart adversary can exploit what the machine learning algorithm does, and reduce the quality of decision-making.

“The concern about this is that one might find that an adversary is able to control, in a big-data environment, enough of that data that they can feed you in misdirection,” said Dr Deborah Frincke, head of the Research Directorate (RD) of the US National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS).

Adversarial machine learning, as Frincke called it, is “a thing that we’re starting to see emerge, a bit, in the wild”. It’s a path that we might reasonably believe will continue, she said.

As one example, an organisation may decide to use machine learning to develop a so-called “sense of self” of its own networks, and build a self-healing capability on top of that. But what if an attacker gets inside the network or perhaps was even inside the network before the machine learning process started?

“Their behaviour now becomes part of the norm. So in a sense, then, what I’m doing is that I’m protecting the insider. That’s a problem,” Frincke said.

“What’s also interesting in the data science, is that if you are using a data-driven algorithm, [that algorithm] is what feeds the machine learning technique that you disseminate. Unless you keep that original data, you are not going to know what biases you built into your machine learning approach.

“You would have no way of that needle in the haystack, because you threw away the haystack, and all that’s left are the weightings and the neural networks and so on.”

Machine learning has other limitations too.

In 2016, for example, Monash University professor Tom Drummond pointed out that neural networks, one of the fundamental approaches to machine learning, can be led astray unless they’re told why they’re wrong.

The classic example of this problem dates back to the 1980s. Neil Fraser tells the story in his article Neural Network Follies from 1998.

The Pentagon was trying to teach a neural network to spot possible threats, such as an enemy tank hiding behind a tree. They trained the neural network with a set of photographs of tanks hiding behind trees, and another set of photographs of trees but no tanks.

But when asked to apply this knowledge, the system failed dismally.

“Eventually someone noticed that in the original set of 200 photos, all the images with tanks had been taken on a cloudy day, while all the images without tanks had been taken on a sunny day,” Fraser wrote.

“The military was now the proud owner of a multi-million dollar mainframe computer that could tell you if it was sunny or not.”

Frincke was speaking at the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) conference in Canberra on Wednesday. While she did point out the limits of machine learning, she also outlined some defensive strategies that the NSA has found to be effective.

Organisations can tip the cybersecurity balance of power more in their favour by learning to deceive or hide from the adversary, for example.

By its very nature, network defence is asymmetric. That imbalance is usually expressed as the defender having to close off every security vulnerability, while the attacker only has to be right once.

“On the face of it there should be something we should be able to do about that. You’d think there’d be some home-court advantage,” Frincke said.

Traditionally, organisations have tried to make their data systems as efficient as possible. It makes the network more manageable. But from an attacker’s point of view, it’s easy to predict what’s going on in any given system at any given time.

Taking a defensive deception approach, however, means building an excess capacity, and then finding ways to leverage that excess capacity to design in a deceptive or a changing approach. That way, an attacker can’t really tell where the data is.

If you process data in the cloud, then one simple example might be to duplicate your data across many more nodes than you’d normally use, and switch between them.

“If you’re trying to do an integrity attack, changing that data out from under me, you don’t know which of, say, those hundred nodes I’m using. Or I might be looking at a subset of those nodes, say three, and you don’t know which ones I’m using. So you could try to change them all at once [but] that’s a lot harder,” Frincke said.

The RD’s research has shown that this approach increases the attacker’s cognitive load and plays on their cognitive biases.

“We can try to lead them into making wrong decisions. In other words, we’re frustrating them. We’re trying to make them work too hard, to gain ground that they don’t need. And that will make it easier for us to find them,” Frincke said.

“It’s a little bit like the old honeypot [or] honeynet writ large, but designed into the system as an integral part of the way that it works, and not an add-on.”

The downside to defensive deception is that it’s harder to manage.

“Now I have to do more work as a system manager, and as a pro designer, I need to be sure I know which one of those three of the hundred I should use, otherwise I could end up shooting myself in the foot, especially if I’ve [been] deploying some kind of misleading changes for the adversary,” Frincke said.


Henry Sapiecha

Committee recommends budget relief for Australian intelligence agencies

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The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has today fulfilled one of its key statutory oversight responsibilities with the tabling of its review into the administration and expenditure of the Australian intelligence agencies for the 2014–2015 financial year.

The Committee concluded that the six agencies comprising the Australian Intelligence Community are overseeing their administration and expenditure appropriately. Matters addressed by the Committee included agencies’ strategic planning, staffing, security, budget and financial performance.

In relation to expenditure, the report recommends that the efficiency dividend be removed from all Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) and Australian Federal Police (AFP) operations.

Committee Chair, Mr Andrew Hastie MP, commented that “while the funding pressures faced by agencies were reduced somewhat during 2014–15 by the additional funding to support counter-terrorism capabilities and other initiatives, ASIO and ASIS continued to face pressure in other areas”.

“Our intelligence and security agencies need sufficient base funding to meet all of their obligations. This means that funding is required to not only to deal with the increased threat to the community from terrorism, but also other significant external threats such as foreign espionage and cyber-attacks.”

“We need to make sure our agencies are resourced adequately as they seek to detect, disrupt and defeat threats to the Australian people.”

During its review, the Committee received comprehensive submissions and conducted private hearings with each intelligence agency and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. The Committee’s final hearing was conducted on 2 May 2016, shortly before prorogation of the 44th Parliament. The review lapsed on prorogation and was resumed early in the 45th Parliament.

Further information about the inquiry, including the Committee’s report, can be accessed via the Committee’s website at


Henry Sapiecha


Roundtable discussions on Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories

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The Parliament’s External Territories Committee will host a roundtable discussion tomorrow from 9 am to 12:30 pm on the enduring strategic importance of the Indian Ocean Territories.

Committee Chair, Mr Ben Morton MP, said he is looking forward to holding our first hearing for the inquiry and gathering together departmental officials, subject area experts and academics.

“Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands may be small dots in the Indian Ocean, but the territories’ proximity to Asia and major shipping lines means they remain vital to Australia’s defence, trade and security interests,” Mr Morton said.

The Committee will examine different angles including maritime surveillance, military contingencies and regional cooperation, investment in government infrastructure, and implications for the territories’ residents.

Further information about the inquiry, including the submissions received and the hearing program can be accessed via the Committee’s inquiry website.

Media enquiries:
Please contact the Committee Chair, Mr Ben Morton MP on 08 9354 9633

For background:
Please contact the committee secretariat on (02) 6277 4355 or email

Interested members of the public may wish to track the committee via the website. Click on the blue ‘Track Committee’ button in the bottom right hand corner and use the forms to login to My Parliament or to register for a My Parliament account.


Henry Sapiecha

Public hearing on Australian Cyber Security Centre relocation and fit out

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The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works will hold a public hearing in Canberra tomorrow to examine the proposed relocation and fit-out of the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) by the Department of Defence.

The proposed works will enable the personnel of the various agencies to be co-located, as well as providing additional space to facilitate joint initiatives between the ACSC, industry and academia. The estimated cost of the project is $38 million (excluding GST).

Full details on the project are available on the committee’s website:

NB the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works is neither involved in the tendering process nor the awarding of contracts. Enquiries on those matters should be addressed to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Public Hearing Details: 1:30pm to 2:30pm, Friday 10 February, Committee Room 1R3, Parliament House, Canberra

Members of the public are welcome to attend to observe proceedings. The hearing will also be webcast at

Media enquiries:
Office of the Chair, Mr Scott Buchholz MP (Greg Birkbeck): 0427 421 132

For background:
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works
(02) 6277 4636,,

Interested members of the public may wish to track the committee via the website. Click on the blue ‘Track Committee’ button in the bottom right hand corner and use the forms to login to My Parliament or to register for a My Parliament account.


Henry Sapiecha

After a decade of silence, this SQL Slammer computer worm is back and researchers don’t know why

worms-pack image

A 14 year old computer worm has suddenly made a surprise comeback following a decade of almost no activity – and nobody knows why.

After it first appeared in January 2003, SQL Slammer carried out distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against tens of thousands of servers across the globe, using servers and routers to overload over 75,000 networks within 10 minutes of its emergence.

Exploiting a buffer overflow vulnerability in Microsoft SQL Server 2000 or MSDE 2000, the memory resident worm sends a formatted request to UDP port 1434 to infect the server. Once this occures, it rapidly spreads itself by sending its payload to random IP addresses and causing further DDoS attacks.

Microsoft released a patch to prevent SQL Slammer attacks, but now, almost a decade and a half after it first appeared in the wild, cybersecurity researchers at Check Point have noticed a sudden upsurge in this form of cyberattack. The spike is to such an extent SQL Slammer became one of the most common malware attacks during December.

SQL Slammer surged between November 28 and December 4, 2016 and attacked targets in 172 countries across the globe. The US was by far the most common target of the worm, accounting for 26 percent of SQL Slammer attacks, followed by the UK and Israel on seven percent each.

The IP addresses responsible for initiating the largest number of attempted attacks were registered in China, Vietnam, Mexico, and Ukraine, although outside of that there’s no indication of who revived the SQL Slammer attacks or why.

‘Could be an aberration, could be the start of something – it’s hard to speculate!’ said a Check Point spokesperson.

Where the most Slammer attached were launched from-MAP image

SQL Slammer isn’t the only old computer virus which has given organisations issues years after it first appeared; the eight year old Conficker virus is still responsible for a large number of attacks, accounting for over 500,000 incidents in a year.



Henry Sapiecha