As we all know, the Australian Signals Directorate is now busy investigating the circumstances around Tuesday night’s census debacle. But didn’t ASD sign off on the security of the ABS and IBM systems before the census went ahead, even if it didn’t vet the capacity of the census site? That, after all, is one of the ASD’s core roles — it is the internal government IT security guru, in charge of approving IT and comms hardware and software used by government agencies and politicians to make sure they are secure. Or did ABS go ahead without an ASD assessment? If the former applies, should we be trusting ASD to, in effect, investigate something it approved? The question has particular point because while ASD itself is highly regarded, Crikey understands that there are concerns at senior levels within the Australian Intelligence Community about the head of ASD, Defence bureaucrat and former Stephen Smith adviser Dr Paul Taloni, and his responsiveness. Given the systemically important role ASD has within government, such concerns are a worry at a time when the community and politicians are suddenly very focused on information security.

Peter Fray

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