Category Archives: EVENTS FAIRS FUNCTIONS

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 http://www.aph.gov.au/pjcis.

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Henry Sapiecha

 

Repeat performance: Paris Attacks May Renew Encryption Debate

FILE - In this June 2, 2014, file photo, Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at an event in San Francisco. The deadly attacks in Paris may soon reopen the debate over whether and how tech companies should let the government sidestep the data scrambling that shields everyday commerce and daily digital life alike. The Obama administration continues to encourage tech companies to include backdoors, although it says it will not ask Congress for new law that requires them. Cook has said that the trouble with that approach is that "there's no such thing as a backdoor for the good guys only." (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

FILE – In this June 2, 2014, file photo, Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at an event in San Francisco. The deadly attacks in Paris may soon reopen the debate over whether and how tech companies should let the government sidestep the data scrambling that shields everyday commerce and daily digital life alike. The Obama administration continues to encourage tech companies to include backdoors, although it says it will not ask Congress for new law that requires them. Cook has said that the trouble with that approach is that “there’s no such thing as a backdoor for the good guys only.” (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

In this June 2, 2014, file photo, Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at an event in San Francisco. The deadly attacks in Paris may soon reopen the debate over whether and how tech companies should let the government sidestep the data scrambling that shields everyday commerce and daily digital life alike. The Obama administration continues to encourage tech companies to include backdoors, although it says it will not ask Congress for new law that requires them. Cook has said that the trouble with that approach is that “there’s no such thing as a backdoor for the good guys only.” (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The deadly attacks in Paris may soon reopen the debate over whether – and how – tech companies should let governments bypass the data scrambling that shields everyday commerce and daily digital life.

So far, there’s no hard evidence that the Paris extremists relied on encrypted communications – essentially, encoded digital messages that can’t be read without the proper digital “keys” – to plan the shooting and bombing attacks that left 129 dead on Friday. But it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if they did.

So-called end-to-end encryption technology is now widely used in many standard message systems, including Apple’s iMessage and Facebook’s WhatsApp. Similar technology also shields the contents of smartphones running the latest versions of Apple and Google operating software. Strong encryption is used to protect everything from corporate secrets to the credit-card numbers of online shoppers to intimate photos and secrets shared by lovers.

That widespread use of encryption, which was previously restricted to more powerful desktop or server computers, is exactly what worries members of the intelligence and law enforcement communities. Some are now using the occasion of the Paris attacks to once again argue for restrictions on the technology, saying it hampers their ability to track and disrupt plots like the Paris attacks.

“I now think we’re going to have another public debate about encryption, and whether government should have the keys, and I think the result may be different this time as a result of what’s happened in Paris,” former CIA deputy director Michael Morell said Monday on CBS This Morning.

The last such debate followed 2013 disclosures of government surveillance by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. Since then, tech companies seeking to reassure their users and protect their profits have adopted more sophisticated encryption techniques despite government opposition. Documents leaked by Snowden also shed light on NSA efforts to break encryption technologies.

In response, law-enforcement and intelligence officials have argued that companies like Apple and Google should build “backdoors” into their encryption systems that would allow investigators into otherwise locked-up devices. The Obama administration continues to encourage tech companies to include such backdoors, although it says it won’t ask Congress for new law that requires them.

“The Snowden revelation showed that backdoors can be destructive, particularly when they’re done in secrecy without transparency,” says Will Ackerly, a former NSA security researcher and the co-founder of Virtru, which provides encryption technology for both companies and individual people.

On Monday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the government continues to have “ongoing discussions” with industry about ways in which companies can lawfully provide information about their users while still ensuring their privacy.

Last week in Dublin, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that “there’s no such thing as a backdoor for the good guys only. If there’s a backdoor, anybody can come in.” In other words, any shortcut for investigators could also be targeted by cybercriminals eager to hack major corporations – a la the devastating cyberattack on Sony late last year – or to target individuals for identity theft or extortion, as reportedly occurred following the disclosure of records from the infidelity dating site Ashley Madison.

In the same speech, Cook said Apple will resist attempts to weaken encryption in iMessage. A draft law recently introduced in Britain would require telecommunications companies to provide “wider assistance” to police and intelligence agencies in the interests of national security.

Like iMessage, Facebook’s WhatsApp encrypts all communications from “end-to-end” – a technique that blocks anyone outside the conversation from reading or seeing what’s being sent. Although Facebook can’t see the content of the messages, it does track who is talking to whom and stores their phone numbers – information that can be valuable for law enforcement officials trying to sniff out terrorist plots and fight other criminal activity.

Steven Bellovin, a Columbia University professor and computer security researcher, says he isn’t surprised by the effort to bring back discussion on encryption backdoors. But he adds that it’s way too early to tie it to the Paris attacks.

“We don’t know how these people were communicating and with whom,” he said. “If they were communicating with homegrown software and there’s some indications of that, then a mandatory backdoor is not going to do any good.”

Source: Associated Press

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Henry Sapiecha

NATO Fights Malware, Bugged Devices at Estonian Cyber Center

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses the media during an EU foreign and defense ministers meeting at the EU Council building in Brussels on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. France has demanded that its European partners provide support for its operations against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq and other security missions in the wake of the Paris attacks. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses the media during an EU foreign and defense ministers meeting at the EU Council building in Brussels on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. France has demanded that its European partners provide support for its operations against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq and other security missions in the wake of the Paris attacks. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses the media during an EU foreign and defense ministers meeting at the EU Council building in Brussels on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. France has demanded that its European partners provide support for its operations against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq and other security missions in the wake of the Paris attacks. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

NATO nations and allies are battling malware in tablets and infected devices this week in the alliance’s largest cyber drill to date aimed at improving members’ data privacy in crisis situations.

Some 400 participants from 33 countries were focused on solving scenarios including attacks on high-ranking officers’ computer equipment during an exercise at a cyber range in Tartu, Estonia’s second-largest city.

“The idea is to replicate dynamics and threats that are real,” said Lt. Col. Christian Braccini, a researcher from the NATO cyber think tank and training center in the capital, Tallinn.

The five-day Cyber Coalition 2015 exercise, which ends Friday, included teams from non-NATO members Austria, Finland and Sweden, with Georgia, Japan and Jordan as observers.

It comes amid a flourish of NATO activity and recent visits by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to the region, where Nordic and Baltic countries have watched Russia’s increasing military presence in the Baltic Sea with increasing trepidation.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Robert Hoar, head of the NATO drill on behalf of the Allied Command Operations, stressed the scenarios do not include attacking or defending. He says teams were given realistic “story lines” to solve, including cyberattacks on devices.

“The focus of the exercise is not competition, it’s collaboration,” Hoar told reporters.

Participating nations have at least one representative at the high-security cyber exercise range in Tartu, 190 kilometers (120 miles) southeast of Tallinn.

It’s the third time such an event was held in Estonia, one of the most wired and technologically advanced countries in the world. Estonia itself was targeted in 2007 by hackers in one of Europe’s first major organized cyberattacks.

Source: Associated Press

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Henry Sapiecha

G20 SUMMIT TO HAVE HIGHEST LEVEL OF SECURITY IN AUSTRALIAS PEACETIME HISTORY

Barack Obama’s security team strips floor of Marriott Hotel ahead of G20 in Brisbane

BARACK Obama’s security team ordered the stripping of an entire floor of the Marriott Hotel and investigated installing their own wiring to keep the world’s most powerful man safe while he is in Brisbane for the G20.

Bedding and furniture, including mirrors, have been ­removed from rooms, while others have been left with just desks and chairs as part of the elaborate security operation to ensure he cannot be spied on.

Secure communication lines will be established and rooms will be swept for bugs to ensure he can conduct confidential business and make private phone calls from within the hotel.

The hotel will sit inside a cordoned off ­security zone, where only those with accreditation will be allowed to enter.

The Marriott Hotel is undergoing drastic changes ahead of Barack Obama’s arrival image www.intelagencies.com

The President is expected to arrive on Saturday and will stay at the Marriott for at least one night while he attends the G20.

A source close to the operation said some rooms had been left almost completely bare, while others have only minimal furniture.

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Staff believed to be associated with Mr Obama’s support team have been involved with the move, and have also discussed installing their own wiring.

Another source said there was almost always an area set aside for him to discreetly carry out his presidential ­duties via phone.

The US President’s team is taking over entire floors of the Marriott Hotel.image www.intelagencies.com

The US President’s team is taking over entire floors of the Marriott Hotel.

A “control centre room” is also likely to be set up for his support team, who will require workstations and other facilities to use the hotel as a mobile office.

The US President will be accompanied by hundreds of staffers, who will occupy a number of floors at the hotel. The US is famously cautious when it comes to security arrangements for its presidents when they’re abroad.

Mr Obama has previously travelled with a special portable security tent, which can be set up in hotel rooms to allow him to examine classified material and hold talks securely.

He is expected to arrive in Queensland via Amberley air base early Saturday morning, before being flown to Brisbane via chopper.

The President will deliver a speech at the University of Queensland around 11am with invitations already going out for the large venue.

US President Barack Obama will stay at the Marriott Hotel for at least one night while in Brisbane for the G20 image www.intelagencies.com

US President Barack Obama will stay at the Marriott Hotel for at least one night while in Brisbane for the G20.

The crowd is likely to be made up of mostly young ­people, with a dress code of smart casual, with the event to be held at the UQ Centre, which has the capacity to seat 2500 people,

It is hoped the famous ­orator will deliver a landmark speech at the university.

Meanwhile, the security perimeter is beginning to tighten as centres from Bowen Hills to Woolloongabba become “declared zones’’ in preparation for the G20 leaders’ summit.

All streets surrounding the Brisbane Convention Centre are now fenced off, while other locations around the city will join declared zone status today and tomorrow.

Hundreds of Queensland police on 24-hour foot and bicycle patrol on the South Bank are being joined by a contingent of about 200 officers coming from Western Australia.

Police are now routinely checking identification of pedestrians. Half a dozen police were swarming over a lone motorcycle parked a few metres from the convention centre shortly before 2pm on Sunday.

The bike and owner were later given the security all-clear.

Henry Sapiecha

G20 SUMMIT OF WORLD LEADERS IN BRISBANE QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIA TO HAVE PRESIDENT OBAMA GIVE SPEECH

Henry Sapiecha

Semi-automatic weapons, ammo handled in mystery Brisbane military operation in preparation for the G20 summit

 

miliary personal handling semi auto weapons g20 brisbane summit  image www.intelangencies.com

Semi-automatic weapons, ammo handled in mystery Brisbane military operation

BRISBANE CBD residents watched on in awe as a movie-like scene played out in front of their eyes as G20 preparations continued early this morning.

After seeing a large gathering of soldiers believed to have been armed with semi-automatic weapons, those enjoying a late Sunday night saw their purpose become apparent.

Around midnight, a convoy of vehicles carried soldiers a short distance to an underground car park at a building where their operation would soon come to life.

One inner-city road was partially blocked as a fleet of army vehicles rolled in.

Finally, about 12.45am, at least four speed boats were seen zipping along the Brisbane River before unloading crews.

Tactical Assault Group East conducts a training exercise early Monday morning at Stamford Plaza, Brisbane ahead of the G20 Leaders' Summit.image www.intelagencies.com

Tactical Assault Group East conducts a training exercise early Monday morning at Stamford Plaza, Brisbane ahead of the G20 Leaders’ Summit. Photo by Sarah Keayes

At the same time, four Black Hawk choppers hovered ominously around buildings – coming within metres of some – in what appeared to be a simultaneous “attack”.

Dozens of soldiers appeared, aided by what was believed to be night vision and gas masks.

Moments earlier, loud bangs and shoutings of “get down” had been heard inside one of the nearby buildings.

After approximately half an hour, the “intruders’’ were seen being taken to a central point in the building in what seemed to be arrested-like fashion.

A chopper hovers just metres from the buildings G20 summit Brisbane image www.intelagencies.com

A chopper hovers just metres from the buildings. Photo Adam Armstrong.

Tactical assault personnel on the Brisbane River during the late-night exercise. Photo by Sarah Keayes

For several hours, a large number of military dressed personnel — estimated to be about 50 — descended on an inner-city commercial carpark in what is believed to be a G20 training operation.

In plain sight of pedestrians, the personnel handled what appeared to be semi-automatic weapons, ammunition, helmets and large equipment containers.

The group were dressed in olive-coloured military style clothing with no apparent badges identifying themselves or their agency.

Some appeared to be wearing body armour.

Personnel on scene refused to provide any details of the operation or the agencies involved when asked by The Courier-Mail.

For a short period of time, a single police car was also seen parked out the front of the carpark where the operation was taking place.

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When contacted by The Courier-Mail on Sunday night, spokespeople for the Australian Federal Police, Queensland Police Service and Defence Public Affairs all denied any knowledge of the operation.

The Royal Australian Air Force announced on Sunday they would conduct G20 security preparations from November 3 to 13 but not on weekends.

The RAAF said operations would involve “fighter, surveillance and support aircraft, alongside the Army Black Hawk helicopters”.

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Henry Sapiecha

G20 security: Concern foreign spy services will get access to photos of Brisbane residents

The Queensland Council for Civil Liberties (QCCL) has raised concerns about foreign spy services like the KGB being given photographs of Brisbane citizens during next month’s G20 summit.

police surveilance via monitors 7 phones image www.intelagencies (1)

Security will be formidable during the Brisbane event, with thousands of police officers on duty.

Leaders from the world’s major powers will be visiting Queensland’s capital for the G20 in November.

Security will be formidable during the event and the thousands of police officers on duty will have the power to exclude people from a large area of Brisbane and take their photograph to share with all police on duty.

QCCL spokesman Terry O’Gorman said by law the photos would go to ASIO and the Immigration Department – and possibly foreign intelligence services from countries including Russia and China.

“[Russian president Vladimir] Putin is one of the most unattractive world leaders, as is the Chinese premier because they both lead countries that have appalling human rights records,” he said.

“The fact that the Chinese government and the Russian government would get my exclusion notice and my photograph doesn’t sit very easily with me at all and I don’t think it should sit easily with any Brisbane citizen.”

He said it was not known what authorities would do with the information and photographs in the future.

“We don’t we know what they’re going to do with it months and years from now,” he said.

“It’s bad enough that exclusion notices are given to ASIO and the immigration department.

“But to have a Brisbane citizen’s photograph given to the KGB? To be given to the Chinese Secret Service? These are the most totalitarian countries in the world.”

Queensland Government MP Lawrence Springborg said the G20 legislation was introduced to protect the community.

david-cameron-promo-gif-data image www.intelagencies.com

It will be illegal for people to carry certain household objects such as eggs and glass jars in central Brisbane without a “lawful excuse”. Here are 17 of the prohibited items – in GIFs.

“When we have the most powerful people in the world coming not only to our shores, but to our very fine city, we have to make sure that people are safe and the community is safe,” he said.

“As an individual, I accept that, and most individuals do accept that.”

South Bank cafe manager Sophia Tsiros said she was concerned that protests could turn violent but she was confident police would be able to manage the situation.

“You’re running a business and you want to make sure everyone’s having a good experience when they come dine with you,” she said.

“The police have spoken to us and they seem to be putting quite a few police on the ground so I’m glad to hear that, but there is still a bit of concern in the back of your mind – ‘Could something erupt?'”

Meanwhile, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) said the majority of insurance companies would cover residents and businesses for vandalism if their properties were damaged during protests.

An ICA spokesman said it would be highly unlikely for claims to be rejected under “civil unrest”.

Henry Sapiecha