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Offensive cyber operations - performance analysis

ASD uses its offensive cyber capability against a range of adversaries to protect Australians and Australia’s national interests. Offensive cyber operations involve a broad range of offshore activities designed to deter, disrupt, degrade and deny adversaries in support of Government national security priorities.

Deter and respond to malicious cyber intrusions and attacks

On 7 April 2020, the Minister for Defence announced that ASD was using its offensive cyber capabilities to disrupt offshore cybercriminals responsible for a spate of malicious activities during the COVID‑19 pandemic, including stealing money and data from Australians. ASD pivoted its offensive cyber capability to address this emerging threat, including by disabling the cybercriminals’ infrastructure and blocking their access to stolen data.

Plan and execute offensive cyber operations in support of the Australian Defence Force (ADF)

ASD remains committed to increasing transparency around our offensive activities, legal authorities and ethical responsibilities. In December 2019, in support of this commitment, acting Director‑General ASD provided information on operation Glowing Symphony, a 2016 operation against Islamic State in support of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). ASD and its partners disrupted Islamic State propaganda computer networks by accessing accounts, locking out users, gathering intelligence and deleting content. This prevented users from accessing platforms and material used to recruit terrorists, hindering Islamic State capabilities..

Disrupt, degrade, deny and deter offshore cyber criminals

On 4 March 2020, the Director‑General made public the details of ASD’s collaboration with UK counterpart Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to disrupt cybercrime offshore. ASD and GCHQ conducted an operation targeting cybercriminals selling credit card details on the dark web. This enabled the identification of over 200,000 stolen credit cards globally, including 11,000 Australian cards, preventing a potential loss of approximately $90 million globally and over $7.5 million domestically.