Interview with Ray Hadley – 2GB

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The Hon Andrew Hastie MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

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Ella Kenny 0437 702 111

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31 March 2021

RAY HADLEY: Andrew Hastie is the Assistant Minister for Defence and prior to politics, he served with the Australian Army. He's on the line right now. Minister, good morning.

THE HON. ANDREW HASTIE MP, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: Good morning to you, Ray. Good to be with you.

HADLEY: Thank you, I need your help to quite understand this. I mean, I grew up in an era without computers, and without mobile phones and all range of other things I've learned to navigate my way around them. But when I hear the news from our bosses that we are under cyber-attack, I mean, it makes you think we're in some sort of war. Do we know where the cyberattack comes from and for what reason it started against the Nine Network?

HASTIE: That's a great point, Ray. It does feel like we're under attack – and we are in a sense. We've often thought about cyber in private terms – my computer, my laptop – or business people looking to protect their commercial interests, but what we're seeing across the globe now is an increase in in cyber-attacks, and we've got to to start thinking about cyber as a battlefield. We've always thought about war in terms of being conducted on air, land, and sea. But now, instead of bombing a power grid, you can potentially hack into this network and shut it down remotely, and so these are the risks that we're starting to see more and more, not just in Australia, but across the globe. The Russians, for example, allegedly shut down the Ukrainian power grid in December of 2015. So we need to do more to protect ourselves – and that's what the Australian government's doing. We're trying to educate Australians on the risks that everyone faces now and some of the measures that they can take to protect themselves and all that information is at a website, people can go to as a single source of truth for all Australians on cyber.

HADLEY: Okay, well, you see, I understand people accessing remotely on a smaller scale and quite legally, if I'm at home, and my computer's playing up, I ring one of the boys here and say, listen, can you have a look and see what's going on? They say, log on and I do and then I see the mouse moving around the page and they say, yeah, we're on it now and we're looking at it. So I understand doing it remotely with my permission. But the sort of attacks we're seeing, I guess we have very sophisticated prevention measures here in Nine radio, Nine TV and the paper assets. I'm wondering, are we inventing things to protect ourselves, but the crooks are inventing things to unprotect us as quickly as we protect ourselves, is that how it’s working?

HASTIE: Well Ray , if people, if your listeners use an iPhone or Android, there’s going to be what we call patches, they’re security updates, so they can update their phone or their iPad, and that patches any gaps in the system. So yes, we are constantly refreshing technology to protect ourselves. But there are basic things that we can do every day to protect ourselves – for example, having complex passwords, that can't be hacked as easily, having what we call multi-factor authentication, where you need two pieces of evidence rather than just a password to get into your bank account or an email – that’s a good way people can protect themselves, and then backing up your data. We've seen over 450 ransomware attacks in the last year. A ransomware attack is simply where someone uploads malicious software onto your system, captures your data, and then tries to sell it back to you or extort money out of you for it. If you've backed up your data, you can crack on at least, and work it out without losing all your data in the process. So, all that sort of information is on and I encourage all your listeners to go there and have a look and protect themselves and their businesses.

HADLEY: We get back to the attack on Nine, and before that was an attack, I believe on the logistic company TNT. One would imagine particularly a media company like Nine would have the most sophisticated measures in place. But the point I'm trying to make is, you know, it's a bit like other things. And it's a bit like, I've spoken to Scott Morrison before – they come up with measures to help people in the community then people find out how to rort it so they rort it then they've got to change it to make sure that people can’t rort it. Are we fighting a battle against the Russians or anyone else, where we put measures in place, whether it be nine radio, the Australian government or TNT and other organizations but the crooks come up with a better idea on how to get over the top of our measures in place to protect ourselves?

HASTIE: Well it's a constant struggle. It's a constant contest to protect ourselves. So, at one end, you've got sophisticated criminals online. At the other end, you've got sophisticated state actors with all the resources of the country behind them – and, yes, we are spending $1.3 billion over the next 10 years to get Australia up to speed with our security, through the Australian Signals Directorate, and the Australian Cyber Security Centre. We’ve just got to keep working on this because there are always going to be gaps. That's the nature of the world that we live in. But nonetheless, we're making progress. And we're working very closely with industry and so it's important that we can behind closed doors learn from what happened at Nine, and I know the Australian Government's working closely with Nine on that. And we use the information that we learned from that to make ourselves stronger and better for the next attack.

HADLEY: It was reported in relation to TNT there was an attempt to extort which wasn't successful. What reason would someone want to shut the Nine TV asset down or the nine newspaper asset down, I mean was there an attempt at blackmail? Or why would they do it?

HASTIE: I don't know all the specifics, Ray, but certainly Nine is a significant media company in Australia it is very important part of the public square and our democracy and so, you know, it could be a political target. It could be it could be a basic attempt at ransom, we don't know, and that's, you know, commercial in confidence for Nine. But I'm sure the government's working closely with Nine on that; I know they are.

HADLEY: Now we go to another, more pleasant matter. The Royal Australian Air Force celebrating its 100th birthday today, March 31, 1921 the Australian Air Force was formed as the third arm of the military forces. It had been preceded by the Australian Flying Corp in World War One and briefly by the Australian Air Corps, which was a division of the Australian Army. But the AAF became the RAAF August 1921, when King George V approved the use of ‘Royal’ in the name, so we had the Australian Air Force becoming the Royal Australian Air Force a bit later, 100 years ago, and established at Point Cook Port Phillip Bay southwest of Melbourne, five squadrons to start with, to what we have today. It is a very important day in the history of our military history.

HASTIE: It's a huge day, Ray. More than 350,000 Australians who’ve worn the blue uniform, more than 11,100 have given their lives serving our country in the air – I think a lot of the young crews who died in World War Two in bombing operations over Germany. It's a huge part of our history, we’ve got a lot to be very proud of. Incidentally, Ray, I think of my grandfather on the 31st of March, he was shot in the stomach 76 years ago, up in the Pacific fighting the Japanese aboard a Catalina air sea rescue aircraft. So it's a very special day personally, but I want your listeners to think of our men and women in blue and the job they do, protecting us in the skies.

HADLEY: Yes, I think is a very important thing. My dad was too young for the war, but he died quite young in 1975 at 46. But we used to go past the Richmond Air Force Base, and he, on the right hand side of the Hawkesbury, race clubs left, right hand side the Air Force Base. When I was a boy, he'd say, I worked in there, and I’d say what did you do, Dad? And he said I was in the Air Force for a few years. I said, what where you? He said a dog handler. I said, what does a dog handler do in the Air Force? He said, See that fence, I’d walk around there a thousand times with my dog to make sure no bugger came in here.

HASTIE: I’ll bet you it had a bite on it too.

HADLEY: Exactly, exactly. And there used to be a little pub opposite the race course on the right hand side. And I don't know what the pub was called. It's long gone now. And he said that's a place we used to sneak to to have a drink on our nights off as well, when we weren’t supposed to be there, climb the fence and go to the pub.

HASTIE: There you go. I've got a fond memory of Richmond myself. My dad took me out there in 1988 for the bi-centenary air show as a six year old and just seeing all those fast jets. I wanted to be a pilot for a while but I was never that good at maths or physics, Ray, so I joined the army instead!

HADLEY: That'll show you up if you're no good at maths and physics! 

HASTIE: That’s exactly right!

HADLEY: There'll be 60 aircraft flying over Lake Burley Griffin during the aerial spectacular, including strike planes and modern aircraft. So it's a very special day for the Royal Australian Air Force. And we thank all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in that wonderful, wonderful part of the Australian military history. 

HASTIE: Indeed.

HADLEY: All right, then, I'll go and check all my passwords on my phones and computers to make sure I don’t get hacked.

HASTIE: No worries Ray, and if I could just let reiterate with your listeners is where they'll find all the information they need.

HADLEY: I'll be on there in a couple of hours looking myself. Thanks a lot, Andrew. 

HASTIE: Thanks, Ray appreciate it.

HADLEY: All the best to you mate, Andrew Hastie Assistant Minister for Defence.


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