Category Archives: AUSTRALIA


Top secret program to target iPhones: Australian agencies may have known!

Apple denies knowledge of the tool, saying it ‘has never worked with the NSA to create a back door in any of our products’


iPhone 5 appsSlides suggest there were plans to develop software allowing the NSA to remotely access text messages, photos, voice mail and live calls on iPhones


Australian intelligence agencies may have had knowledge of a top secret US National Security Agency program for targeting iPhones, according to newly-released documents.

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Slides released on Monday by security researcher Jacob Appelbaum suggest there were plans to develop software called DropoutJeep to allow the NSA to remotely access text messages, photos, voice mail and live calls on the Apple devices.

The slides say that to install the software physical access to the phones would be needed, but flag the possibility of remote access in the future: “A remote installation capability will be pursued for future use.”

The documents, which date to 2008, are classified as top secret but are cleared for release to “FVEY” – shorthand for the Five Eyes agreement to share intelligence between the US, Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and UK governments.

The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency....
The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency. The first use was in September 1966, replacing an older seal which was used briefly. For more information, see here and here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The classification of the documents means that intelligence organisations such as the Australian Signals Directorate, which maintains a close relationship with the NSA, could have knowledge of the program.

The Department of Defence said it was unable to provide a comment by deadline.

Apple has denied it had any knowledge of the tool, and said in a statement: “Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a back door in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. We care deeply about our customers’ privacy and security.”

“Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple’s industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers. We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.”

The new slides were released as part of a presentation Appelbaum gave at the 30C3 conference. His presentation contains a number of slides that outline in great detail the different methods the NSA can use to intercept communications.




Posted By Mantosh Pal


Australian Police Website Has Been Targeted By Indonesian Hackers As Payback For Spying!

AFP says no sensitive information compromised after hackers access log-in details of member through Crime Stoppers site,


Australia’s Crime Stoppers website on Tuesday after it was targeted by Indonesian hackers. Photograph: Guardian Australia

Indonesian hackers have targeted the Crime Stoppers website and published the purported emails and encrypted passwords of 25 government and police addresses.

The Indonesian group BlackSinChan – not a part of the international hacktivist collective Anonymous – posted a statement on Monday night revealing the supposed passwords, and suggested it had acquired more information during the attack.

The statement said: “Today we only release some email and pass only! This is a warn for Australian goverment!”

It said the attack was motivated by the revelations that Australian spies had targeted the Indonesian president’s mobile phone.

The Crime Stoppers site was taken offline while the Australian federal police and other authorities assessed the extent of the hacking.

An AFP spokesman said the force was taking the the attacks “very seriously” but added that any attack on the AFP website – which was targeted directly last night – did not compromise its internal IT network. “No sensitive information is hosted on the AFP website,” the spokesman said.

The deputy chairman of Crime Stoppers, Peter Price, told Guardian Australia he expected the site to be back up again by Wednesday at the latest.

Price described the attack as an “intimidation tactic”, saying it was more like “throwing a rock through a shop window rather than robbing the shop itself”. He said no classified information had been hacked but would not give details on how far into the system the hackers had reached.

“The most important information sits behind a federal government firewall,” he said. “This is monitored and protected by the Department of Defence. There was no penetration to that at all.”

Price said there was “nothing classified” about the emails and passwords that had been hacked.

An AFP spokesman said it was aware some third-party login details of an AFP member had been posted online but this would not compromise internal networks.

Since Guardian Australia and the ABC revealed that Australian spying authorities had targeted the personal mobiles of the Indonesian president, his wife and eight of his inner circle, there have been a number of hacking attempts from Indonesia on important Australian sites.

Last week Indonesian hackers attacked the websites of the AFP and the Reserve Bank of Australia.

The ABC reports that a letter from Tony Abbott to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, responding to the president’s demand for an official explanation of the spying revelations, was hand delivered to the presidential palace in Jakarta by the former Australian army chief Peter Leahy.

Abbott had decided upon the personal delivery to ensure the letter was “conveyed with the utmost respect, befitting the importance of the subject matter and his high regard for President Yudhoyono”, Leahy said.

It is unclear if the letter was handed personally to the president, who is in Bali, or if it was delivered to the palace in Jakarta.

Indonesia has officially downgraded its relationship with Australia in the wake of the phone tapping scandal, suspending all co-operation on efforts to target people smuggling as well as cancelling all joint military exercises.

Yudhoyono described Abbott’s response to the phone tapping revelations as “belittling”.

The Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said she believed Abbott’s letter would calm the ongoing diplomatic crisis.

“We will work very hard to build on the relationship that already exists,” she said.

She confirmed she had been in contact with her Indonesian counterpart, Marty Natalegawa, since the publication of the revelations about phone surveillance.

Post By Mantosh Pal

ACT to sell its betting agency


The ACT government has announced plans to sell its betting agency ACTAB as early as next year. Source: AAP

AUSTRALIA’S smallest government-owned gaming business is to be sold because the ACT can’t inject the cash needed to make the ailing betting agency competitive again.

The ACT government on Friday announced ACTTAB will be sold off, possibly as early as next year after a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers outlined a compelling case for the sale of the business with just over 100 staff.

Treasurer Andrew Barr says the government hopes to conduct a competitive bid process to achieve a fair and reasonable sale price after getting the agreement of the ACT Legislative Assembly next week.

Mr Barr would not nominate a likely sale figure.

ACTTAB continues to turn a profit but has reported declining revenues in recent years as it is too small to operate as a standalone business.

Mr Barr said ACTTAB needed a capital injection that could not come from the territory budget.

Technology had fundamentally changed the business, as had the arrival of aggressive corporate bookmakers such as Tom Waterhouse.

The most active punters were now males aged 25-35 who did most of their betting on smartphones rather than in shopfronts.

“The smallest TAB in the country is simply not in a financial position to compete with businesses on an international scale,” Mr Barr told reporters in Canberra.

ACTTAB reported $1 million profit last year, down as the organisation turnover has progressively sunk to around $100 million.

The profit partly offsets the government’s $7 million support for the ACT racing industry.

The successful bidder will need to show how it would support the local racing industry.

Mr Barr said there would be job losses among ACTTAB’s staff, two-thirds in administration and the rest in the shopfronts.

The legislative assembly is likely to agree to the sale, when it was flagged earlier this year the opposition said it was well overdue.

Govt warned not to be hasty on pension age

SENIORS, welfare groups and unions want age discrimination and adequate superannuation to be addressed before any increase in the pension age is considered.

A Productivity Commission report has suggested lifting the pension age from 65 to 70 to help Australia cope with an ageing population.

But Treasurer Joe Hockey was quick to deny the government was considering the move.

“We have no plans to change the age,” a spokeswoman for the treasurer told AAP.

Commission chairman Peter Harris says population growth and ageing will affect labour supply, economic output, infrastructure requirements and governments’ budgets.

“The best time to develop policies that address the inescapable implications of demographic change is while the transition is in its infancy,” he said in the report released on Friday.

The report estimates a pension age of 70 would save $150 billion between 2025/26 to 2059/60 in today’s dollars.

But National Seniors chief executive Michael O’Neill says it is naive to believe simply raising the pension age will boost productivity.

“Older Australians want to work but no one will hire them,” he said in a statement.

“Lose your job at 50 and the odds are stacked against you getting another one.”

Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan agreed, saying lifting the pension age would serve no social or economic purpose if people were forced onto unemployment queues.

“Such a change should only be considered when we have eliminated age discrimination from the workplace,” she said, adding that about two million Australians over 55 were willing to work but could not find employment.

Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said if the government wanted to reduce budget pressures as the population aged, it should strengthen the superannuation system.

“A strong superannuation system lets ordinary workers retire with security and quality of life and takes pressure off the pension system.”

The Australian Greens said the government should be ensuring big business and the mining sector were paying their fair share to help care for all Australians as they aged.

“Raising the pension age again without proper examination would be a knee-jerk reaction,” Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said.

But business believes the commission’s proposal is a sensible response to increased life expectancies.

“As major contributors to taxation revenue, businesses have an interest in containing the growth of government spending associated with the ageing population,” Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said.

The commission also proposed an “equity release scheme” for older Australians who own their own homes, to help pay for health and aged-care services.

The scheme would mean those who own their homes contribute half of the annual real increased house value to the government, which would help cut government spending by about 30 per cent.

Retirement Living Council executive director Mary Wood said the recommendation had “significant merit” as accommodation requirements changed with age.

“Downsizing to retirement villages in particular should be encouraged, not penalised,” she said.