Reg comments14

Patch-crazy Aust Govt fought off EVERY hacker since 2013

Breached, but nothing exfiltrated, chuffs spy chief

Major General Steve Day / The Register.

Australian Signals Directorate deputy director Steve Day says hackers have failed to extract any sensitive information from Federal Government agencies for the last two years despite successfully breaching several networks.

Day chalks it up to agencies following the lauded "Top 4 security controls" developed by ASD bod Steve McLeod and colleagues.

The "Top 4" are application whitelisting, patching applications regularly, patching operating systems regularly, and minimising admin privileges.

Speaking in Sydney today Day says federal agencies have the security controls to thank for preventing the data theft.

"[Every breach] would have been prevented had the top four strategies been implemented," Day says.

"There were no compromises of Australia Government agencies between mid-2013 to mid-2015."

Day says hackers failed to steal data thanks to the education regime behind the top four control push coupled with regular audits of Federal Government agencies forced to implement the controls.

The contributing factors include unspecified "actions against our adversaries" Day says, probably hinting at the efforts of the ASD offensive red teams who are tasked with hacking networks for Australia's national interest.

"It's something we could speak about at another time or place", he says.

Day points to a chart illustrating the number of network intrusions into Federal Government agencies since 2009. Prior to that date the agency lacked insight into government agency breaches. "We had some pretty bad years", Day says.

Attacks against government agencies decline thanks to the top four controls.

The Major General says the breach data could change if new intelligence is received, but adds he is confident of the results.

He says the time it took ASD to discover breaches has fallen from about nine months "a few years ago" to a matter of weeks.

Day also announced that the Federal Government's Cyber Security Center set up in the agency's new facility will house representatives from seven telecommunications organisations to develop information sharing mechanisms, although he acknowledges the wheels in Canberra turn slowly and did not put a deadline on the effort.

He says he would envision for the future that the cyber centre have 'footprints' each capital city to build face-to-face industry relationships. ®

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