Australia's Department of Defense has moved to block the use of Chinese messaging app WeChat within the agency amid concerns over spy activities in the country. According to the defense agency, it does not allow the use of unauthorized software on devices used by defense officials and personnel.
Facebook's WhatsApp is also under a security evaluation, although limited use of Facebook itself is permitted . It is understood that the move is due to foreign espionage activities spotted by the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), with the former Secretary of the Department of Defense, Dennis Richardson, disclosing that Chinese spies were "very active" within the country.
ABC News reported in October last year that ASIO had detected "espionage and foreign interference against Australia" conducted by a number of states and other actors, stating:
Foreign intelligence services sought access to privileged and/or classified information on Australia's alliances and partnerships, our position on international diplomatic, economic and military issues, our energy and mineral resources, and our innovations in science and technology.
It remains unclear, though, what specific security concerns prompted the Australian Defense Department to completely ban WeChat. It's understood, however, that the app's close ties to the Chinese government and the ease with which data contained in it can be exploited have been a cause of concern for the agency..