Nick Warner, Director-General of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), discussed the agency’s achievements and the challenges it faces. It is the first time a Director General of ASIS has spoken publicly since the creation of the agency in 1952. ASIS’s information network currently consists of over 170 foreign intelligence services in almost 70 countries. Often compared to the U.S.’s CIA or Britain’s MI6, ASIS existence was only officially recognised 20 years ago.
The Director-General identified cyber warfare as one of the biggest threats to the nation’s security. “The field of cyber operations is one of the most rapidly evolving and potentially serious threats to our national security in the coming decade” Warner said. “Government departments and agencies, together with corporate Australia, have been subject to concerted efforts by external actors seeking to infiltrate sensitive computer networks”, he added.
“Considerable resources are now being invested by the government to counter this threat and harden the defences of departments and agencies”, Warner said. The agencies involved are the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) and Australia’s national security intelligence service (ASIO). “So far as ASIS is concerned, “HUMINT” (human Intelligence, Ed.) has a role in identifying the source of these threats and revealing the underlying intentions of those probing our cyber realm. This will become an increasingly important part of ASIS’s work in the years ahead”, he explained.