Australian News

Security Breach Sees Secrets Stolen From International, $1.1 Trillion Joint Strike Fighter Project

12th oct 2017

A mystery hacker codenamed after a larrikin Australian soap opera character has been revealed as stealing sensitive, high-level information about a $1.1 trillion defence project created by an alliance including Australia, the U.S, UK and Canada.

The data about Australia’s warplanes and navy ships was stolen from an Adelaide Defence subcontractor which had one I.T. specialist and used extremely easy passwords.

Given the name “ATP ALF” — in reference to a +30 year character from the long-running Australian beachside TV program, “Home and Away” — the hacker had managed to sit inside the system of the contractor for months before detection in November 2016, and stole information about programs such as the $17 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project, the C-130 Hercules transport plane and the $4 billion P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft project.

A state actor has not been ruled out and it has been reported that a hacking tool, known as the Chinese Chopper, was used. The stolen data was not classified military information, but it was described as “commercially sensitive”.

The hack was discovered by a major Defence contractor.

A hacker a government agency has named ‘Alf’ (after the Home and Away character) has stolen sensitive Defence info
— Bevan Shields (@BevanShields) October 11, 2017

Intelligence agency, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) revealed details of the hack, through the technology news website ZDNet, on Wednesday, after it was flagged on Tuesday by the minister for cyber security, Dan Tehan.

According to Mitchell Clarke, an ASD incident response manager, the stolen documents for a Navy ship could let a viewer, “zoom in down to the captain’s chair and see that it’s, you know, one metre away from nav chair”.

The subcontractor was revealed as using software that hadn’t been updated for 12 months as well as username-password combinations, “admin-admin” and “guest-guest”.

The many months between where the hacker was left to his own devices was referred to ‘Alf’s Mystery Happy Fun Time’.

Not an SME – a defence supply chain. Vendors are threat vectors.
— Tim Watts MP (@TimWattsMP) October 11, 2017

Defence industry minister Christopher Pyne told the ABC on Thursday he does not know who the hacker is and indicated he would not tell if he knew, “It could be a state actor, a non-state actor. It could somebody working for another company”. He described the contractor as a small enterprise and rejected any implication that the Turnbull Government was to blame for the hack.



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Lawyers condemn ‘draconian’ move to hold 10-year-old terror suspects without charge

7th Oct 2017

Lawyers have sounded the alarm bells over an agreement allowing children as young as 10 to be held without charge for up to two weeks on suspicion of terrorism offences.

The Turnbull government and the states and territories agreed to the new pre-charge detention regime at a meeting in Canberra this week at which Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews derided civil liberties concerns as a “luxury”.

But Fiona McLeod, president of the Law Council of Australia, said such concerns should not be so lightly dismissed, and condemned the decision to lock up children without charge as “draconian”.

“It’s the combined shock of having a combination of a pre-charge detention of up to 14 days and the revelation they’re going to seek to have this extended to the age of 10,” Ms McLeod told Fairfax Media.

“We’re talking about draconian steps there and we believe that’s crossed the line of intruding on civil liberties too much.”

The federal Labor opposition also hit out at the agreement. “It’s a shocking and drastic step to propose, without charge, the detention of
a child of 10 years old,” shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan on Saturday made the case for extending the regime to include 10-year-olds, arguing it was regrettable but necessary because Islamic State deliberately recruited children.



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Phrases like ‘male’ and ‘female’ could be banned in Australian schools

4th oct 2017

A call to change school sex education to omit gendered references and make lessons more inclusive for transgender students has sparked debate across the country

Rather than gendered references to reproductive anatomy with words like penis, vagina, sperm, and ovaries, gender-neutral terms to identify these organs could be used, an Australian university study suggests.

“Educators and sexuality education programs must… develop ways of talking about bodies and intimacy that shift attention away from the normative association of particular genders with particular anatomies,” the paper published in the Journal of Sex Education, claims.

“The language of sperm and eggs can produce dysphoria for some young transgender people,” Damien Riggs and Clare Bartholomaeus of Flinders University in South Australia wrote in the report.

The references in the mainstream education caused some of the young people to experience a disordered view of their genitalia, which they found distressing and caused gender dysphoria, according to the report.

Same-sex marriage opponents called the study a “smoking gun” and argued changing Australian marriage laws would push schools to adopt Safe Schools-style sex-ed programs in classrooms



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Government announces creation of national space agency

25th Sept 2017

The federal government has announced that it will establish a new national agency to grow Australia’s domestic space industry.

Senator Michaelia Cash, the acting Minister of Industry, Innovation and Science, announced the initiative on Monday morning ahead of her keynote address at the International Astronomical Congress in Adelaide.

The federal government has announced the creation of a National Space Agency.

“The global space industry is growing rapidly and it’s crucial that Australia is part of this growth,” she said.

“A national space agency will ensure we have a strategic long-term plan that supports the development and application of space technologies and grows our domestic space industry.
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“The agency will be the anchor for our domestic coordination and the front door for our international engagement.”

The Australian National University in Canberra was quick to signal its interest in playing a “key role” in the proposed agency.

“ANU is a national resource with leading facilities which drive Australia’s research, as well as space industry and technology,” vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt said.
“ANU global research and industry collaborations are helping to make space safer for space travel and satellites, and driving new technologies to develop the communications, instruments and space plasma thrusters for future space missions.”

The government made its announcement on the same day the Labor party outlined its own plans to boost Australia’s space industry through the establishment of a space science and industry agency from 2020.



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Video shows man allegedly marrying a child in Melbourne mosque

8th Sept 2017

Imam Ibrahim Omerdic at the Melbourne Magistrates court facing charges for conducting a child bride wedding ceremony, the girl was 14 years old. Picture: Nicole GarmstonSource:News

VIDEO showing the wedding of a 34-year-old man and an underage girl has been screened in a Melbourne court.

The mobile phone footage that allegedly shows a prominent Muslim marriage cleric marrying off the girl in a backstreet Melbourne mosque in front of her mother was seized by police.



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Would you be prepared to be biochipped if it made travelling easier?

4th Sept 2017

Would you be prepared to be biochipped and regularly monitored in order to be able to travel more freely?

This is one of the scenarios raised in a new report on the future of the airline industry that also recommends a working group be set up to look at automation in aircraft.

The speculative report doesn’t come from the pen of a science fiction author but from the School of International Futures and was commissioned by the International Air Transport Association’s industry affairs committee.

It is designed to generate discussion and looks at a number of scenarios and the drivers that could bring them into being by 2035.
Federal police can’t check the ID of suspicious travelers prior to their boarding.

Those drivers cover a wide range of subjects from societal and technological change to environmental, economic and political developments.

The biochipping suggestion is part of a “New Frontiers” scenario where there has been a shift in power to the East and competition for economic and military power moves to new frontiers, including space.

Access to information is open and democractised but there remain problems in areas such as cybercrime and the use of data by states to conduct surveillance.

In this world, governments continually monitor the financial transaction of citizens, there is bioscreening in showers, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence dominates frontline service.

But global instability, the emergence of “bio-bombs” and an increase in transnational cybercrime has made travellers nervous.
The emergence of bio-bombs are making travellers nervous.
The emergence of bio-bombs are making travellers nervous.Picture: Getty Images

“People are willing to pay more for low-risk flights,’’ the report speculates. “And airlines are keen to reduce risks too – every individual now has a risk rating.

“Those who agree to be ‘biochipped’ and regularly monitored can travel more freely and AAA+ travellers get prioritized access. Since 2032, everyone in Europe has been chipped at birth.”

Although it doesn’t use the artistic names of a similar study by global booking giant Amadeus, the IATA document approaches the problem of predicting an uncertain future in a similar way.

It sees the critical uncertainties as geopolitics — including, terrorism, cyber warfare, trade and governance — and whether data will be open and connected or closed.

Three other scenarios are considered alongside “New Frontiers”: “Resource Wars”, “Sustainable Futures” and “Platforms”.

“Sustainable Futures” sees a peaceful, multi-polar world in which there is strong international governance and open access to information.

Advances in big data, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence all have a positive impact on society, innovation allows sustainability and new trade routes open up.
Biochipping could make travel a whole lot easier.
Biochipping could make travel a whole lot easier.Picture: Supplied by subject

“Resource Wars”, arguably the darkest of the four scenarios, sees a turbulent world in which “an aggressive, nationalistic China threatens a US distracted by continued conflict”.

This scenario sees a wave of territorial disputes in the Middle east and Asia, the emergence of resource trading blocs and limits on movements between rich and poor countries.

“Data asymmetries exist between countries, and governments increasingly use data to monitor and control their citizens.,’’ the report says.

“Platforms” sets a stage in which the US and China have co-operated to open international trade and corporations play an increasing role in the economy.

A dominant elite controls data and data platforms, Africa is sidelined and many countries see a disempowered public increasingly dissatisfied with the political elite

Recommendations in the report begin with a call for continued support for bodies involved in setting global standards, such as the UN-Backed International Civil Aviation Organisation, as well as increased engagement with new institutions such as the Global Development Bank.

The report suggests IATA push for greater flexibility in routing and scheduling to allow airlines to deal with conflicts and other major disruptions.
Police may soon be able to demand ID from anyone, even those not flying

Other recommendations include a set of emergency response guidelines and procedures that airlines could implement rapidly in turbulent times and the establishment of a global industry-wide position on data protection.

One certain to get the attention of pilots includes the establishment of working group of both manned and unmanned operators to facilitate standard-setting and information sharing.

US manufacturer Boeing said earlier this year that it would examine pilotless aircraft and test the technology in a simulator.

“Technology in self-driving cars may pave the way for more relaxed attitudes to automation,’’ the report says.

“At the same time, there will be risks around the co-existence of piloted and pilotless flights in the same airspace (a risk already present with drones).

“Technology already enables pilotless flights. Freight shipment represents an opportunity for airlines to develop cutting-edge technology without watering down their commitment to passenger safety.”



International “anti-vaxxers” banned from Australia

Make no mistake on our stance, a documentary about potential adverse effects, injured children and flawed testing is NOT an ‘anti vax’ film. – TMN


9th aug 2017

INTERNATIONAL anti-vaccination ringleaders have been banned from returning to Australia for a “substantial” period after a controversial film tour.

US anti-jab radicals Polly Tommey and Suzanne Humphries staged several secret meetings in Melbourne and nationwide in which Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, was shown, and parents were encouraged to expose children to deadly diseases.

“Australia to me is literally the worst country I’ve visited. Not the people, the government,” she said in a video.

“I had my phone taken away as I left Australia. They confiscated my phone and took photographs of all my emails and texts. They also told me I am banned from Australia for three years.”



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