CSIRO drops the ball on sensitive research
The following article posted this morning, whilst alarming is completely unsurprising. The only surprise appears to be that someone in CSIRO actually detected the unauthorised access of information, when so much of the organisation’s efforts are focused on attacking those publicly critical of its practices and severely punishing those who speak out from within.
Espionage fears at CSIRO
Political News National
Date: December 4, 2013
Richard Baker, Nick McKenzie
Australian intelligence and security agencies are investigating a suspected industrial espionage case at the CSIRO, the nation’s top scientific organisation.
In revelations that will further test Australia’s relations with China, federal police and intelligence officials are investigating a Chinese national who until last week worked in the CSIRO’s highly sensitive nanotechnology laboratory in Melbourne.
The man, a post-doctoral student, is being investigated for allegedly accessing sensitive CSIRO data. A focus of the intelligence probe is determining whether the man sent CSIRO information to a foreign power.
The CSIRO’s nanotechnology area works closely with Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation.
CSIRO spokesman Huw Morgan told Fairfax Media on Tuesday that “a matter relating to the possible unauthorised access and use of a section of CSIRO IT infrastructure by a CSIRO employee” had been referred to the Australian Federal Police.
Mr Morgan said the CSIRO was unable to comment further at this stage. The man’s alleged activities are understood to have been detected last week by the agency’s internal security.
A federal police spokeswoman said investigations were continuing and no further comment could be made.
The CSIRO has collaborated with leading Chinese universities on nanotechnology projects in recent years.
Details of the CSIRO case have emerged during a tense period in Australia’s relationship with China, with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop last week calling in the Chinese ambassador to register Australia’s concern over Beijing’s establishment of an air defence zone covering disputed territory in the East China Sea.
They also come amid global debate about the methods of Western intelligence agencies in the wake of disclosures by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Australian and US intelligence chiefs have spoken publicly this year about the growing threats of industrial espionage and cyber crime. ASIO director-general David Irvine has flagged the need for his agency to focus more on cyber and industrial espionage.
In the US, a report by the Pentagon to Congress in May warned of China’s hunger for scientific and economic intelligence to support its military.
The report said China leveraged ”foreign investments, commercial joint ventures, academic exchanges, the experience of repatriated Chinese students and researchers and state-sponsored industrial and technical espionage” for technology and expertise to support its military.