Defence confirms sensitive data stored on Chinese-owned servers


IMPORTANT UPDATE: While CONTACT is confident we copied-and-pasted a Defence statement on this subject accurately, we weren’t sure for a while – because yesterday’s official Defence statement was deleted from the Defence web site sometime after 11.40am today and thereafter replaced by a more comprehensive statement by Greg Moriarty, Secretary of the Department of Defence.
Removal of the original statement, replaced by the most senior Public Servant in Defence (and since followed up with a Press Release (a very unusual thing for Mr Moriarty), indicated to us that the original was indeed flawed.
Fortunately, we did find this proof and this 😉
CONTACT therefore stands by our original story and headline – but we’re happy to correct the record…


Today’s statement follows, with our original story below that…

Mr Moriarty said

Australians can be assured that Defence’s data is safe.

The safeguarding of Defence’s data is of the utmost priority for my Department. Defence has comprehensive security controls in place at the Global Switch Ultimo data centre to protect against compromise by a foreign power or other malicious actor. Control and access of the Defence data stored at Ultimo remains under full operational control of the Australian Government. All of the most sensitive data was removed from this facility in May 2020.

The facility was designed with multiple layers of physical and cyber security controls. Physical security arrangements are accredited by relevant government agencies and include a 24/7 security presence, CCTV monitoring, sophisticated sensors and alarms and hardened physical infrastructure. The Defence Security Operations Centre provides 24/7 cyber security protection. A secure gateway provides further assurance to prevent unauthorised access to the data holdings. Taken together, these measures represent the highest level of security assurance.

Consistent with the Whole-of-Government Hosting Strategy, Defence is taking a rigorous, risk-based approach to migrate the remaining less sensitive data assets to an alternate data centre.

The FIRB has in place strict foreign investment conditions on the operations and security of Global Switch Ultimo since the initial transaction. In some cases, foreign investment conditions could include restrictions on the involvement of non-Australian citizens and additional security requirements on individuals involved (such as security vetting). The FIRB’s compliance team monitors Global Switch’s adherence to the FIRB conditions on an ongoing basis.

The Australian Government has also announced and legislated the most comprehensive reforms of Australia’s foreign framework. Critical to those is the national security test requiring mandatory notification of investments in sensitive national security land and businesses. As a last resort, the Treasurer can review actions for which approvals have been given, if exceptional circumstances arise. The protections that were put in place as a condition of that approval means, if they are not adhered to, the Treasurer has the power to act in the national interest and intervene.

The strength of Australia’s foreign investment rules and the fact that Defence retains full operational control of its data at the Ultimo facility provides the highest level of assurance of Defence’s data as we complete the migration of the remaining Defence ICT assets.


Yesterday’s anonymous statement (edited for style by CONTACT) said

An official statement issued by Ministerial and Executive Coordination and Communication, Department of Defence yesterday confirmed Defence has migrated its most sensitive data to a purpose-built data centre – owned by a Chinese consortium.

“Consistent with the Whole-of‑Government Hosting Strategy, data migrations of Defence’s sensitive ICT data and assets was completed ahead of schedule and under budget prior to the expiration of the original Global Switch Ultimo lease in September 2020,” the unattributed statement said.

“Defence is now progressing work, consistent with this strategy to migrate less sensitive and unclassified data assets to an alternate data centre.

“Despite the ABC’s assertion, Defence has and will continue to retain full operational control of its data halls within the Ultimo data centre.

“Defence has strict security arrangements in place including 24/7 Defence security presence, remote CCTV monitoring and regular security audits.”

The Defence statement went on to say the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) had in place strict foreign investment conditions on the operations and security of Global Switch since the initial transaction and that the FIRB’s compliance team monitored Global Switch’s adherence to the FIRB conditions on an ongoing basis.

“This assures Defence of the security of its assets and data holding as we complete an orderly migration of the remaining Defence ICT assets by 2025.”


UNRELATED FILE PHOTO: No. 462 Squadron cyberspace security specialists conduct information-assurance activities on deployed mission systems at the main air operating base in the Middle East. Photo by Corporal Brenton Kwaterski.







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Posted by Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

2 thoughts on “Defence confirms sensitive data stored on Chinese-owned servers

  • 21/02/2021 at 1:15 pm

    Having been required to deal with the DVA since 2000, I find it difficult to rely on the Public Servants being SES and above to lie straight in bed. Having had to listen to the drivel that emanates from there collective mouths, does not instil any confidence or reliance on a correct answers to any questions. Having read the responses to questions at the Royal Commission in sexual Assaults, from the DVA under oath, by senior members of the DVA, to the Commission shows how lies and modified statements manipulate the TRUTH. Defence can’t even get the facts correct in relation to a rape in the Ministers office, or the reporting requirements to the PM from a Brigadier. There is something about the Generals and sexual assault in the ADF that doesn’t ring true, how the hell can they control data given to the Chinese, on our soil it is probably bulk loaded back to China.

  • 21/02/2021 at 10:07 am

    All the political assurance in the world is not going to change the fact that the government and senior Military officials are corrupted by Chinese money.
    Im posting this on behalf of a serving member as well as myself…
    The military has NO CONFIDENCE in this Gov or military hierarchy…if a Chinese person has walked within 100 km of ANY defence procurement or capability it should be avoided like Wuhan…
    Wake the hell up Morrison!!


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