Confronting and countering the threats from Espionage, Foreign Interference and Terrorism

Across 8 and 9 May, Safeguarding Australia 2019 will bring government and industry together to counter the threats facing all Australians. Safeguarding Australia summit will unite international and Australian experts to explore the issues in this space, considering the past, present and future of security response.

In light of the horror of the Christchurch terror attack, the threat of right-wing extremism has evidently never dissipated with the most notable terrorist attack back in the 1995 Oklahoma bombing.

In a recent article, Niall Ferguson of the London Times commented that the Christchurch gunman’s “crime signals the globalisation of pseudo-history”.  He traces how the selective versions of “history” by both violent Islamist and Right Wing extremists help position both radicalised lone actors and extremist organisations to justify their positions, to inspire and conduct acts of terrorism.

This is one of the challenges we face in understanding the role of cyberspace as a platform for extremist ideology and espionage activities.  Whether it is the presence of and the potential continuing rise of the Right Wing extremism or the maintenance of the so-called ISIS “Crocodile Cells” or again the more insidious use of societal manipulation for strategic advantage, we have a responsibility to understand and respond to these threats.

Adding to the distinct challenges in countering violent extremism, Nick Kaldas, one of our profiled key speaker, a long standing former Deputy Commissioner in the NSW Police Force writes in the aftermath of the Christchurch atrocity that Australia has eight police forces but none are tracking hate crimes

The recent and ongoing reporting of cyber-attacks on the federal parliament’s computer system, the similar intrusions into our political parties and other citizen bodies and the already well documented attempts to influence our universities and industries is cause for alarm and concern. On the eve of a federal election it inarguably demonstrates the need to address the issue of foreign interference head on.

Safeguarding Australia 2019 will explore these themes throughout the summit and engage in participant discussions in the relevant workshops and panel sessions. This year the diversity of the speakers and panelists will allow us to contest and synthesise ideas to plan for a more security-focussed future and looking to enhance the dialogue between government, private sector and academia to respond to these challenges.

Our domestic and international expert presenters and panelists will provide an insight into current threats, responses and future issues. Our in-depth workshops will equip participants with some tools and approaches to identify, respond and prevent insider and cyber threats.

The theme for Safeguarding Australia Summit 2019 on Confronting and Countering the Threats from Espionage, Foreign Interference and Terrorism are attracting a range of international and local key senior security professionals presenting at the Summit.

The  Program Committee is pleased to announce participation from one of our keynote speakers, Elizabeth Bodine-Baron of RAND Corporation in the U.S. co-author of Countering Russian Social Media Influence. Elizabeth is an engineer specializing in complex networks and systems at the RAND Corporation.  She has used network analysis of social media data to study CVE messaging, Russian propaganda, ISIS support and opposition networks, CENTCOM information operations, and US Army recruiting efforts. Bodine-Baron received a B.S. in electrical engineering and a B.A. in liberal arts (Plan II Honors) from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from California Institute of Technology in 2012.

Pierre Pasinetti, the Vice President of Security for Thales, will be visiting from France to address the threat and response to espionage to international defence and security industry.  Pierre has extensive global experience in both private and government sector and leads internationally on protective security and crisis management.

Academic and policy input to the key topic is coming from Professor Rory Medcalf, Head of the National Security College and supported by Associate Professor Matthew Sussex will be addressing the subject of Democratic Resilience and Foreign Influence: lessons for and from Australia.

The Summit committee also welcomes Ryan Pardee of the FBI and Nick Pietrowicz of the U.S State Department who will be contributing in the area respectively on the cyber aspects of Counter Intelligence (CI) in the region and measures the US Government uses to protect our staff and information from CI concerns.

Safeguarding Australia 2019 will focus on this and more over the one and a half days of plenary sessions, followed by two highly focussed immersive workshops offered as an elective on afternoon of Day 2 following conclusion of the main conference at lunch – this is a programmed activity where all participants are actively engaged in analysing the issues and contributing to a good practice model for addressing it,  It would require some background and pre-reading for participants to get the best from the below immersive program

  • Cybersecurity – defeating the foreign and domestic adversaries

This in depth workshop will examine the nature of the threats, targets and operations of foreign adversaries.  It will be limited to citizens of Australian allied countries which have security agreements with Australia.  The workshop will develop models for detecting, preventing and responding to cyber-attacks and look in detail at the NIST Cyber Security Framework, ISM Essential 8 and UK Cyber Essentials. It will be facilitated by leading government, academic and private sector cyber security specialists.

  • Insider Threat – people and the culture of security.

The in depth workshop will consider the best models for an insider threat program and work through what may be the best approach for your agency and business. It will also examine the current Australian Standard 4811 Employment Screening which is to be reviewed for reissue to address “whole of work life assessment”.  The Australian Standards Technical Committee for Security and Resilience will be leading this work and members will be in attendance. An outcome of the workshop will be a model plan transferable to your work place.

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