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Australia's Defence Department tips AU$12M to seat spies with students

'Unusual' pairing hopes to attract new hacking blood

By Darren Pauli, 24 Jun 2016

The Department of Defence has tipped A$12 million (£6.1 million, US$9.1 million) into an information security facility to attract new blood by housing signals spooks alongside Australian National University academics.

The "unusual" pairing is hoped to attract skilled students into the information security field and the country's spy agency the Australian Signals Directorate.

It will house 70 students along with academics and signals staff to research high-performance computing, information security, and data analytics.

Defence Minister Marise Payne told reporters the work will be unclassified.

"It's not a usual collaboration," Payne says.

"Defence will be very much involved with that along with the Attorney-General's Department and other intelligence agencies, to make sure that industry, their staff and the community inform themselves and equip themselves to avoid possible cyber security attacks and threats."

ANU vice-chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt says it will help build STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) across Australia.

"I think it's really important that we're going to be able to work with the Federal Government with our expertise and do something that's great for the nation."

It follows a push by successive federal governments into the information security space.

The Turnbull Government in April launched its information security strategy under which A$230 million (£116 million, US$173 million) will be spent over four years to improve critical infrastructure defences through private and public sector information sharing, innovation security centres, and by bankrolling support for 5000 security tests for businesses. ®

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