Foreign nation tries to hack into the Australian government – before spies uncovered their plot

Foreign nation tries to hack into the Australian government – before spies uncovered their plot

  • Domestic spy agency ASIO delivered annual report to Parliament on Wednesday 
  • The agency said it had thwarted plot in 2020 by a foreign operative in Australia 
  • Operative trying to convince government staff to reveal classified information 
  • ASIO said there are more spies in Australia now than there were in the Cold War  

Senior government staffers were targeted by foreign operatives earlier this year in an attempt to uncover information about Australia’s spy networks. 

The nation’s domestic intelligence agency revealed it had thwarted the plot in its annual report to parliament on Thursday. 

The Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) said the foreign operative was working on Australian soil and communicating with a team of spies in their own country. 

The primary goal of the operative was to secretly gain knowledge of Canberra’s counter-espionage operations and capability – particularly directed at their country. 

Senior government staffers were targeted by foreign operatives earlier this year in an attempt to uncover information about Australia's spy networks (file image)

Senior government staffers were targeted by foreign operatives earlier this year in an attempt to uncover information about Australia’s spy networks (file image) 

'An Australia-based foreign national was working with a team of foreign intelligence officers, who were trying to recruit multiple Australian security clearance holders,' ASIO chief Mike Burgess (pictured) told Parliament on Wednesday

‘An Australia-based foreign national was working with a team of foreign intelligence officers, who were trying to recruit multiple Australian security clearance holders,’ ASIO chief Mike Burgess (pictured) told Parliament on Wednesday 

ASIO said it’s ‘overt activity’ against the operative had foiled the plot and ‘prevented the passage of classified information’ to the foreign government. 

‘An Australia-based foreign national was working with a team of foreign intelligence officers, who were trying to recruit multiple Australian security clearance holders,’ ASIO chief Mike Burgess said. 

The report did not list countries which have been actively involved in spy activities against Australia – though China has reportedly been a focus of ASIO resources in recent years. 

The report did estimate that there more foreign spies operating in Australia currently than at the height of the Cold War. 

Other areas of concern highlighted by the ASIO report were the growing right-wing extremist threat who are more ‘organised, sophisticated, ideological and active than previous years’. 

He said they have viewed COVID-19 as evidence of their ideologies. 

‘They see the pandemic as proof of the failure of globalisation, multiculturalism and democracy, and confirmation that societal collapse and a ‘race war’ are inevitable.’ 

Mr Burgess also said the threat of Sunni Islamic extremism continued to be one of ASIO’s top areas of concern. 

The agency’s terrorist threat alert level remains at ‘PROBABLE’ with Mr Burgess adding it would likely remain that way over the long term. 

The report did not list countries which have been involved in spy activities against Australia - though China has reportedly been a focus of ASIO resources in recent years (stock image)

The report did not list countries which have been involved in spy activities against Australia – though China has reportedly been a focus of ASIO resources in recent years (stock image) 

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This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk