How to get a job as an Australian spy
An Australian spy has revealed details about "one of the most important jobs in the world" - inside the country's top spy agency as ASIO recruits more into its ranks.
"Sam" told 9News she is "working to protect people from harm," describing it as "hard work, but it's very, very rewarding".
The former nurse revealed she changed jobs after the September 11 attacks and attacks on Australians in the Bali Bombings in 2003.
"It made me curious as to, to who was working to prevent these things from happening, to stop these things from happening," she told 9News.
"Sam" cannot reveal her real identity or even specifics of her job, due to its highly classified nature.
But she did offer a rare insight into the mysterious world of counter espionage.
"I'm an intelligence officer, and I guess broadly speaking, my job is to look at various pieces of often quite vague information and bring them together and distill them to create a picture of what somebody might be planning to do to harm Australians," she said.
"Coming to work for ASIO you realise how serious the intelligence business is.
"Unfortunately, in the past few years we have had a high operational tempo. The Australian public would be aware of a large number of disruptions and unfortunately some attacks that have occurred in Australia and around the world. This is not an issue just Australia is facing - the entire world is facing."
Since 2014 there have been seven terrorist attacks in Australia, but ASIO has helped prevent 17 more.
The agency also actively works countering foreign interference.
Earlier this week, in his first annual "Threat Assessment" Director-General Mike Burgess said: "terrorists are still plotting to harm Australians" and described the level of threat from foreign spies as "unprecedented".
"It is higher now than it was at the height of the cold war," Mr Burgess said.
Today, during a parliamentary inquiry into Australia's metadata laws, he revealed a scientist was "undertaking clandestine intelligence activity on behalf of a foreign government".
"For more than 10 years the scientist had access to the Australian government clearance holders. People with access to Australian government secrets. Thanks to retained data we managed to identify some of the scientist's contacts."
With ASIO hiring intelligence officers and intelligence analysts, he too has pushed the recruitment drive.
"Our success is built on the imagination and intelligence of our humans. We need people who can out-think and out-imagine our adversaries, and who can harness the power of technology and data alongside good old-fashioned relationship building to achieve our mission of protecting Australia," Mr Burgess said.
To be eligible as an officer or an analyst, applicants need to be an Australian citizen, have completed a three-year bachelor's degree and pass security vetting checks.
"Sam" and the Director-General are encouraging Australians from all walks of life to apply.
"Don't rule yourself out. We've got people from all sorts of backgrounds musicians, athletes, nurses, teachers, even a couple of ex-journalists so everyone's welcome," she said.
"You do have to get through our rigorous recruitment process.
"I'd encourage anyone to apply because I've had, am still having a great career and it's very, very rewarding."
Full details on all the criteria and more on how to the enter the world of one of Australia's top spy agencies, can be found here.
Applications close on March 9.