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Australian spy agency blueprints allegedly stolen in Chinese cyberattack

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asio hq (ABC)
asio hq (ABC)

Blueprints of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization's new headquarters have been stolen in what appears to have been a targeted attack by Chinese hackers, according to a report from the ABC. The hack targeted a contractor that had worked on the building site and came from a server in China, said the state broadcaster.

The theft, which is said to include the building's floor plan, server locations, and security systems, may compromise the safety of Australia's national spy agency and further delay the headquarters' opening. Hackers also reportedly breached the departments of Defence, Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Foreign Affairs and Trade.

"Nothing that is being speculated about takes us by surprise."

The Australian government has so far refused to comment on the matter. "Nothing that is being speculated about takes us by surprise," said Foreign Minister Bob Carr, though he would not be drawn on China's alleged involvement. "I won’t comment on matters of intelligence and security for the obvious reason: we don’t want to share with the world and potential aggressors what we know about what they might be doing, and how they might be doing it." Carr also dismissed potential implications for trade between the two countries, saying "We have enormous areas of cooperation with China.”

Independent senator Nick Xenaphon hit back at the government's stance, however, accusing it of "hiding behind the cloak of national security to cover up what seems to be a very embarrassing situation." Australian Greens leader Christine Milne said the government "does need to answer some questions about how something as basic as building plans with a builder [could be taken]."