0419 GMT April 06, 2020
In a rare speech, Mike Burgess, the director general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) said a range of nations are seeking to influence lawmakers, government officials, media figures, business leaders, and academics, Reuters reported.
“The level of threat we face from foreign espionage and interference activities is currently unprecedented. It is higher now, than it was at the height of the Cold War,” Burgess said in a speech in Canberra.
Burgess did not identify the countries seeking to interfere and refrained from naming any specific attacks on Australia, but he referenced a spate of cyberattacks.
ASIO had uncovered cases where foreign spies have traveled to Australia with the intention of setting up “sophisticated hacking infrastructure” targeting computers containing sensitive and classified information, Burgess said.
The speech comes just a few months after Australia’s leading universities agreed to name overseas research partners, list financial dealings with other countries and share cyber intelligence with national security agencies to curb foreign interference.