Statement by Greg Moriarty, Secretary of the Department of Defence – Global Switch Ultimo
17 February 2021
Australians can be assured that Defence’s data is safe.
The safeguarding of Defence’s data is of the utmost priority for my Department. Defence has comprehensive security controls in place at the Global Switch Ultimo data centre to protect against compromise by a foreign power or other malicious actor. Control and access of the Defence data stored at Ultimo remains under full operational control of the Australian Government. All of the most sensitive data was removed from this facility in May 2020.
The facility was designed with multiple layers of physical and cyber security controls. Physical security arrangements are accredited by relevant government agencies and include a 24/7 security presence, CCTV monitoring, sophisticated sensors and alarms and hardened physical infrastructure. The Defence Security Operations Centre provides 24/7 cyber security protection. A secure gateway provides further assurance to prevent unauthorised access to the data holdings. Taken together, these measures represent the highest level of security assurance.
Consistent with the Whole‑of‑Government Hosting Strategy, Defence is taking a rigorous, risk based approach to migrate the remaining less sensitive data assets to an alternate data centre.
The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) has in place strict foreign investment conditions on the operations and security of Global Switch Ultimo since the initial transaction. In some cases, foreign investment conditions could include restrictions on the involvement of non-Australian citizens and additional security requirements on individuals involved (such as security vetting). The FIRB’s compliance team monitors Global Switch’s adherence to the FIRB conditions on an ongoing basis.
The Australian Government has also announced and legislated the most comprehensive reforms of Australia’s foreign framework. Critical to those is the national security test requiring mandatory notification of investments in sensitive national security land and businesses. As a last resort, the Treasurer can review actions for which approvals have been given, if exceptional circumstances arise. The protections that were put in place as a condition of that approval means, if they are not adhered to, the Treasurer has the power to act in the national interest and intervene.
The strength of Australia’s foreign investment rules and the fact that Defence retains full operational control of its data at the Ultimo facility provides the highest level of assurance of Defence’s data as we complete the migration of the remaining Defence ICT assets.