Artificial Intelligence: Australia’s ASIO Gets $1.3B AI Budget To Thwart Bad Actors

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The Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) has been galvanized after the Colonial Pipeline cyber attack in the U.S.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) got a $1.3 billion funding boost for cutting-edge AI technology aimed at beefing up the country’s security and intelligence capabilities. The AI-on-a-war-footing move comes as Australia identified several countries behind infiltration attempts targeting government, commercial and industrial organizations. (The Australian)

Colonial Pipeline attack could repeat in Australia

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews warned that a Colonial-type cyber attack could happen in Australia.

A major portion of the record $1.3 billion budget would be deployed on AI over the next four years. However, Ms. Andrews was careful to point out that it would not be appropriate to point fingers at China.

“I know there will be people out there who will see this funding in terms of just the Chinese influence — that will be a mistake to interpret it as that,” Ms. Andrews told The Weekend Australian.

“There are a number of nations out there,” she added. “We take a very broad approach and as a government, we want to be as proactive as we can in dealing with any of those threats. It would be wrong of us to be focusing on one particular nation when there are a number of threats.”

Record investment in ASIO

This would be the single biggest fund infusion in the 70-year history of the ASIO.

ASIO director-general Mike Burgess said: “The size and scale of that investment are commensurate with the threat that we and other agencies in Australia are dealing with. Threat to the way of life, espionage, and foreign interference … This continues to be at unacceptably high levels. We are having an effect. But given the complexity of the environment and the global situation, we have to continue pressing into that.”

ASIO would use machine learning and AI algorithms to detect and counter sophisticated and high-level terrorism and espionage threats. These algorithms would decrypt and decode huge amounts of data very quickly.

However, ASIO would not invest in mass surveillance, Mr. Burgess said.

Mr. Burgess also stressed that attacks similar to the Colonial Pipeline incident posed a risk to critical infrastructure in Australia too.

“That’s exactly what could happen here,” he said. “That’s real — it’s a possibility.”

Related Story:  Colonial Pipeline Shut Down By Ransomware Attack

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