On March 25, Australian Security Intelligence Service Director Mike Burgess warned that foreign interference and espionage would soon overtake terrorism as a major threat to Australia’s national security.
In his first television interview since taking office, Burgess told Sky News that the work of the Security Intelligence Service is not well known to the public and that the agency is concerned not only about threats to people’s lives but also to the way Australians live.
Bergers said, “When one country interferes in another country’s (internal affairs) by covert means, it changes the way of Life in another country, and it’s a slow erosion process and a very serious thing, and we have to be concerned and stop it.”
While the Security Intelligence Service believes the main threat is still terrorism, Bergers said foreign intervention and espionage are “at an unacceptably high level” in Australia, and if the world situation does not change, they will overtake terrorism as the biggest problem facing Australia’s national security. Other issues of concern to the Intelligence Bureau are political or ideological violence, attacks on Australia’s defense system, etc.
The Western Australian Parliament was warned on March 4 that their Microsoft mail server had been attacked, and the Parliament immediately shut down the server to reduce the risk of data theft. At the Time of the election in Western Australia, Microsoft issued a worldwide alert of hacking attacks on its mail system, and the WA parliament believed the attacks were likely to have come from within China.
The damage caused by malware is a real concern given global tensions and people’s reliance on the digital world, and the government is taking action to address these issues, Bergers said.
The move comes after the Security Intelligence Service revealed that it had busted a spy network in Australia last year that was trying to steal confidential information about Australian trade. While Bergers declined to disclose which industries were targeted by the spies, sources revealed that the resources and agriculture sectors were the main targets of foreign spies. And these two industries, which have suffered economic retaliation from the Chinese Communist Party, are seeking to diversify their export markets away from dependence on the Chinese market.
Bergers also encouraged more talented Australians to be able to work for the intelligence agency or other security agencies. “We’re looking for smart, curious, creative, innovative people in all walks of life who are good problem solvers. We employ musicians, electricians, dramatists, engineers, doctors, nurses, scientists, even journalists. We look for all kinds of people.”