x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Australian spy headquarters blueprints 'hacked by China'

Australian officials refuse to confirm or deny whether Chinese hackers have solen the blueprints of a new spy agency headquarters, report claims.

CANBERRA // Australian officials yesterday refused to confirm or deny whether Chinese hackers had stolen the blueprints of a new spy agency headquarters as a news report claims.

Australian Broadcasting Corp television reported on Monday night that the plans for the Dh2.2bn Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) building had been stolen through a cyberattack on a building contractor. Blueprints that included details such as communications cabling, server locations and security systems had been traced to a Chinese server, the network reported.

Des Ball, an Australian National University cybersecurity expert, said China could use the blueprints to bug the building, which is nearing completion in Canberra, the capital, after lengthy construction delays.

Mr Ball told the ABC that given the breach, ASIO would either have to operate with "utmost sensitivity" within its own building or simply "rip the whole insides out and ... start again."

Attorney general Mark Dreyfus, the minister in charge of the spy agency, yesterday refused to confirm or deny the report, but said the building did not need to be redesigned, and that ASIO would move in this year.

"This building is a very secure, state-of-the-art facility," said Mr Dreyfus, adding that the ABC report contained "unsubstantiated allegations."