AUS: Secret plan in place to fight electronic war : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Sunday, 4 June, 2000 Secret plan in place to fight electronic war

By Robert Macklin

THE FEDERAL Government has secretly developed its own communications network - codenamed ICON - to protect Australia from electronic warfare.

It now links most government departments in Canberra through secure underground cables.

Formally named the Intra Government Communications Network, it bypasses the Government's partially owned Telstra network and saves millions annually on Telstra charges.

Cost of building the network is only $2 million to date and most departments in the Parliamentary Triangle are now linked to it. It boasts the most sophisticated electronic defences developed in Australia to ensure protection from electronic warfare designed to cripple the nation's systems.

It has no "boxes" that can be tapped for Australia's most closely guarded secrets.

While no single department administers it, the principal coordinator is an officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. A high-ranking officer from each participating department sits on a overseeing committee and the Office for Government Online has an important operational role.

Politically, it is the responsibility of Senator Ian Campbell, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Richard Alston.

Despite the secret nature of the project, it has also allowed the ABC headquarters at Northbourne Avenue to link up with elements of it to improve transmission quality.

But since the Department of Defence, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Defence Signals Directorate are also linked, the existence of the network has been a closely guarded secret.

-- Martin Thompson (, June 04, 2000

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