back to article Oz gov sysadmins ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL

Systems administrators in charge of Australian parliamentarians' computers have been dozing at the wheel, don't read The Guardian, and have completely failed to notice PRISM or Edward Snowden, a Senate Estimates hearing has revealed. Alternatively, Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) sysadmins are today queuing at the …

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Quite a lot of Australian government websites don't even have a front door.

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Anonymous Coward

You just have to guess the password

From what I have observed over government employees' shoulders, it is usually 'aaaaaaaa'.

I need an 'I wish I was joking' icon for this one!

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Anonymous Coward

the penny drops

I really think they were genuinely surprised. I do not think that it ever occurred to them that "them", the Australian parliament could be a target.. let alone have any sort of plan of action ..Then again they probably assume that ASIO and the NSA are authorised to backdoor their systems ..I am sure the "what about the Chinese" was an eye opener though....Do they have a DR plan.... Oh what fun I will have teasing friends which work in public sector IT roles...... Thanks for providing hours of entertainment at the pub

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Anonymous Coward

Sticking your head in the sand

Isn't there some bird that sticks its head in the sand, on the basis that if it can't see a problem, then there isn't a problem?

Did they employ ostriches as Aussie sysadmins by any chance?

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Re: Sticking your head in the sand

Not ostriches - in Australia, they'd be emus.

About the emu: "Some scientists consider emus to be living dinosaurs" - sounds about right for the Government. "Their ability to store fat allows them to go without food for long periods of time" - sounds right for many public servants and sysadmins, too...

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Silver badge

I approve of this being brought up and serious questions raised. On the other hand, as we have seen so many times, if you get your facts even slightly wrong, those on the defence will use that to try and invalidate your entire argument.

So Sen. Ludlam, thanks for actually speaking about this and not letting people just ignore it, but please make sure you are 100% clear on what you are saying first.

Spying will continue to happen but we can never get complacent about it. Such measures should be seen by states as very serious and requiring careful consideration before being undertaken. I have no doubt that in some instances, bugging an embassy could avert an otherwise bloody conflict but bugging embassies and hotel phone lines as a matter of course is simply not on and we must make sure that those people who authorise it are held to account.

Good cause first, then surveillance; not surveillance first and then analyse the output to find a cause.

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Anonymous Coward

Every dictator thinks he's the good guy

"Good cause first, then surveillance; not surveillance first and then analyse the output to find a cause."

That's dangerous words, every dictator thinks they're the good guy. They don't spy on embassies to avert wars, they spy on embassies to *win* wars.

*Win* in a good cause of course. You can't let Germany elect a leader who opposes the invasion of Iraq, but a Americanophile like Merkel? Fine. That's a type of win too, the most common type with mass surveillance, but not the kind that reduces the number of wars.

You'll never see a British politician oppose any invasion of any country by the US, they're too tightly controlled, with the spying apparatus of the UK working to keep it that way. Everyone of those guys thinks they're the good guys saving Britain from the British. Those pesky British and they're free will must be watched 24/7.

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Re: Every dictator thinks he's the good guy

Erm, Syria? Ok it wasn't officially an invasion that was being planned, but rather the precursor. Otherwise yes, spot on :) And yes, we do tend to follow the states into every conflict going, yet have trouble getting them to assist us (late to two world wars, never turned up to the Falklands and lets not mention Rwanda etc).

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Re: Raped

Not raped but graped <sic>because there was a bunch of them.

I am surprised that so many people are surprised really. When things like Echelon exist then the next logical steps for them to take are the ones that have landed us where we are today.

Thus it was ever so.

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Anonymous Coward

Confusing

But it's a government program!

Wait... you say the US government is DIFFERENT from the Australian government? Why has no one told us that before?

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Black Helicopters

Australia is a UKUSA Country

Given that Australia is a member of the UKUSA "Treaty" (its not really a treaty, if you're not scared of the NSA like me then you can read the documents that founded it here ), or more accurately the AUSCANZUKUSA Agreement as all of those countries are members and they all share the burden of COMINT collection, so while its ridiculous and rather dangerous to Australian citizens as well as the Government, no, Australia's government most likely isn't going to spend much of their time plugging holes that they themselves are actively exploiting or are at least knowing full well that another member of the agreement is exploiting.

The wisdom of that approach is very questionable, because if an agreement agency knows where the holes are, then other, non agreement agencies like the Third Department of the PLA (China) and Russian Spetssvyaz probably* do as well, and are probably exploiting it too. Australia and New Zealand are two of the more transparent countries in the agreement, but I can think of cases where the other great powers would want to know what they're up to, what they're spending money on, and who they're sheltering.

(*-by probably, I mean it in the Intelligence Analysis sense, where there's a 50 to 80% certainty involved)

Black helicopter as there is no RC-26 icon.

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Anonymous Coward

Just checking...

Does AUSCANZ-USUKA sound like a triad-style gang?

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