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Key mission 2: Counter-espionage and foreign interference - Build

Key Mission 2: counter-espionage and foreign interference - Build  counter-espionage and foreign interference. Text as follows 'We work with our Australian and international partners to build security and intelligence capabilities.2019-20 Result ACHIEVED.

During the reporting period, we intensified efforts with domestic and international partners to build security and intelligence capabilities and support the development of counter–foreign interference capability across government.

  • We delivered capability development programs for law enforcement partners and other affiliated agencies, to enhance our joint capacity to identify and actively disrupt harm from foreign interference.
  • We enhanced our ability to identify and counter foreign interference through significantly improved cooperation and collaboration with NIC and foreign partners. This collaboration included the placement of several NIC agency staff in the newly established CFITF.
  • We provided highly regarded protective security and defensive counter–espionage and interference advice to NIC and defence partners. Recipients informed us our advice helped shape organisational defensive counter-interference posture and programs, and enhanced collaboration with ASIO on security and insider threat matters.
  • We extended capability-building activities across our technical, analytical and HUMINT platforms to key NIC partners including ASD, Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) and AFP.

ASIO also helped build resilience against FIS targeting.

  • We provided protective security advice to government, and several industry and innovation sectors. This included personalised security advice for officials and representatives travelling overseas.
  • We produced intelligence assessments and advice supporting the development of the University Foreign Interference Taskforce guidelines, and provided support to universities to implement the guidelines.
  • We enhanced our information technology platform to increase the value of contact reports and case studies to our outreach and investigative programs

Throughout 2019–20, we deepened relationships within the defence industry, and provided tailored advice and support to help partners secure their staff, information and facilities. In particular, this included working with them to identify supply chain risks and determine mitigation strategies. We are also developing additional information technology solutions to improve connectivity between Defence and ASIO, to amplify understanding of security threats and lead to better security outcomes.

Personnel security assessments
We improved Australian Government efforts on vetting and personnel security matters by enhancing our engagement with partner agencies and providing clear, practical security advice.

This included:

  • helping government stakeholders to translate into practice lessons learned from international partners on global best practice for clearance maintenance and technology-derived efficiencies; and
  • working closely with AGSVA and DFAT on projects to improve assessment times through electronic data transfer.

We also briefed AGSVA staff across Australia, which deepened their awareness of EFI threats and helped mitigate the trusted insider threat. After these briefings, which received positive feedback, we saw an increase in subscribers to our Outreach portal from Defence security staff and external vetting providers. Further, significant interest was expressed in our published product on personnel security matters, with key stakeholders advising it had been used to develop several agency security measures including communication campaigns.

To build on this, we collaborated with partners on a strategy to guide the focus of future engagement, which will ensure that we continue to build our partners’ security and intelligence capabilities and continue to provide useful, actionable assessments and advice.