30th ACIPSS Conference: “Threat Situations: Economy – State – Private”

On 7 February, the Austrian Center for Intelligence, Propaganda & Security Studies (ACIPSS) in cooperation with the Department of Risk and Security Management of the FH Campus Wien as well as the Association of Academic Security Consultants of Austria (VASBÖ) held the 30th ACIPSS conference. It was the second time the centre held a conference at the FH Campus.

ACIPSS Director Paul Schliefsteiner and his team welcomed up to 40 security experts to the conference under the headline: “Threat situations: Economy – State – Private”. The issues of the lectures were timely and covered a wide range of topics.

In the introductory lecture, Thomas Goiser (management consultant and ACIPSS representative in Vienna) analysed the Austrian government programme (2020-2024) from the perspective of corporate risk and security management. Within the 326-page document a number of pointers can be found on what companies can expect and if necessary, prepare themselves for in the coming years. In the course of this, not only was an overview of the programme presented, but comparisons were drawn to German coalition agreements; but also curiosities such as “hidden messages” were analysed. However, the focus was on issues of critical infrastructure and announced initiatives in the areas of cyber security and disaster control. These priorities were also addressed in the subsequent discussion.

Afterwards, the two researchers Beatrice Preßl and Yvonne Prinzellner from the Department of Risk and Security Management at the FH Campus Wien presented the results of their current project “The Role of Social Media Analysis in Security Management” (see in detail on the page opposite). According to their assessment, social media are especially important in the first of the three analysis steps (“Response – Assessment – Conclusion”). Information from social media is especially useful for answering the question “What happened?”, but already in the second step of the assessment process the possibilities are limited. Therefore, social media are not to be seen as the main source of OSINT. Further aspects were the reduction of the analysis work by various tools as well as the implications to consider users as objects of analysis. The discussion focused mainly on the economic dimension of data vending.

The risk management consultant Günter Neukamp addressed the topic “Corporate Risk Management – Concrete Threat Situation 2020”. Loss Prevention, Cyber Crime and Fraud Prevention are challenges for every company and the industry. Context specific protection goals, threats and vulnerabilities have to be considered. This requires practice-oriented risk assessments and the synchronization of security measures with corporate and security processes. Neukamp pleaded for integrated solution approaches due to constantly increasing system complexities and regulatory requirements. Using concrete examples such as the commercially offered data destruction, he pointed out various system gaps. This topic was also taken up in the subsequent discussion, especially in view of the fact that the number of undetected offences cannot be estimated, as the latter are kept secret due to the damaging effect to business.

With his lecture “The future of cross-border access to electronic evidence” Maximilian Schubert (Secretary General of the ISPA – Internet Service Providers Austria) presented a detailed analysis of legal and practical challenges in the fight against digital crime. Special attention was given to the difficulties in the administrative process, especially how law enforcement authorities can access data while at the same time the respective (basic) rights of users are protected. This problem not only concerns Internet service providers in their everyday business, but is also the reason for various legislative developments at the European and international level. In the following discussion, the focus was primarily on the Austrian contact points, which can be found in the form of the BM.I and BM.J.

The 30th ACIPSS conference was not only characterised by a large number of interested visitors, representatives of the industry and government, but also by an extremely interactive discourse, which was very well received by the speakers. Once again, a successful cooperation between academia and practitioners ensured that current security issues were addressed.

“Espionage and Intelligence Services in Museums” and the 29th ACIPSS Conference

On 5 December, ACIPSS held two events on the topic of intelligence. During the morning, Dr. Christopher Nehring and Mag. Bernhard Vogel presented the different formats of spy craft and Intelligence services in museums, titled „Schattenwelt im Vitrinenlicht. Spionage und Geheimdienste im Museum.“ The afternoon was dedicated to the 29th ACIPSS conference, with a focus on HUMINT and targeted killings.

Mag. Vogel introduced the exhibition „Spionage! 39 Fälle”[transl. „Espionage! 39 Cases.], hosted by the House of History in the Museum of Lower Austria, where the world of espionage is presented to the interested public by displaying a diversity of exclusive exhibits. Afterwards Dr. Nehring of the German Spy Museum Berlin talked about the success of the permanent exhibition (open since 2015). Within this context the following discussion opened up several interesting glimpse about myths, the question of authenticity as well as the fact that there can be no espionage exhibition without James Bond.

The afternoon belonged to the 29th conference of ACIPSS. Together with the Ludwig-Boltzmann Institut für Kriegsfolgenforschung (BIK) two panels were dedicated to human intelligence (HUMINT) and targeted killings. After an introduction by the director of ACIPSS, MMag- Paul Schliefsteiner, and the head of institute of the BIK, Prof. Barbara Stelzl-Marx, Mag. Knoll explained the circumstances of the so called “Badener Group” and which fate these different individuals met in the immediate years after the Second World War, due to their involvement in espionage. It was shown clearly that  parts of various families ceased to exist because of the incarcerations and executions by the Soviets. The following speaker, Mag. Bacher, went into details about the assessment of British intelligence services regarding the significance of Austria when it comes to HUMINT. He illustrated the importance of Austria as a transit zone between the “east” and the “west”.

The second panel was dedicated to the topic of targeted killings and could not have been any more topical given recent events. Dr. Adrian Hänni compared targeted killings of former Soviet agents with those of today’s Russia. With the help of the examples of Alexander Litwinenko and Sergei Skripal, he demonstrated how Russian intelligence services transitioned to a way of violent and “theatrical” communication and demonstration of their operational reach. Prof. Sensburg elaborated on ongoing events and touched a wide area of security issues, besides the activities of intelligence services. The topic of targeted killings is testament to him that real political consequences for such activities are hard to find. The last speaker was Dr. Jaklin who gave insights about the private military company “Group Wagner”, their areas of operations as well as several killings of journalists connected to this topic. These are similar in ostentation, just like the killings touched by Dr. Hänni, and can be seen as a warning signal to Russian journalists, but also as pawn offers in political power plays.

Dr. Jeremy Stöhs and Mag. Bacher moderated the two panels and directed the following discussion and Q&A in interesting directions. As a result, the audience was given the opportunity to pose  detailed questions to the panelists.

Conference: Military Intelligence Services during the eve of World War I

On the 8th of November, another event on the history of intelligence services was made possible in Vienna, thanks to a cooperation by the University of Vienna, the Science Commission of the Austrian Ministry of Defence and the ACIPSS. Organizers and hosts were Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Mueller and Dr. Verena Moritz from the Institute for Eastern European History at the University of Vienna.

On three extensive panels national and international experts talked about the early endeavours of intelligence services during the eve of World War I (program).

Erwin Schmidl elaborated on unheard or ignored reports of Austrian military attachés during the second Boer- and the Russian-Japanese War in their home country. Guenther Kronenbitter then gave various insights into the planning of wars by Austria-Hungary shortly before the Great War.

Additional insights were provided by Markus Poehlmann, who talked about the organisation and the periodic contextualization of German military intelligence and its actions aimed at Russia. A different presentation was held by Hannes Leidinger, who explained very detailed on how media constructed certain stereotypes to grasp the reasons behind the affair around the treason of Alfred Redl.

The last panel was dedicated to the expertise of Bruce Menning and Evgenij Sergeev. Menning presented various unsolved questions with regard to intelligence history shortly before World War I, but also where possible answers could be found. Sergeev gave a clear picture of Russian spy activity and allied cooperation during the war.

Both the moderation of the panels and the Q&A sessions were guided by Verena Moritz, Wolfgang Mueller and Siegfried Beer. During the discussions additional details to the relevance of research on intelligence services, and also the baby steps of the various services themselves were highlighted, but also the impact they had on political and military stakeholders.

Pictures: David Jaklin

The ACIPSS Third Man Day in Vienna

A tremendously successful production; a thriller depicting the international underworld in post-war Vienna; a movie that influenced the image of Austria in the world. What does this movie tell us today? On August 31, 2019, the Austrian Center for Intelligence, Propaganda and Security Studies and the House of Austrian History (hdgö) explored this and other questions. During this event of the ACIPSS Third Man Day, Siegfried Beer, Thomas Riegler, Brigitte Timmermann and Cordula Simon presented their research findings. In addition, the latest Journal for Intelligence, Propaganda and Security Studies (JIPSS) focusing on the film and the intelligence history around it was presented by ACIPSS director Paul Schliefsteiner. The afternoon program included the Footsteps of the Third Man tour,  a special tour through the “Third Man Museum”  and a visti to the film festival on the Town Hall Square.

Keine Fotobeschreibung verfügbar.

28th ACIPSS Conference: Security Update – Europe 2019

On February 8, ACIPSS held its first Conference in cooperation with the Department of Risk and Corporate Security Management and the Association of Austrian Academic Security Consultants (VASBÖ) at the FH Campus Wien.

After the words of introduction by ACIPSS Director Paul Schliefsteiner, Kurt Hager, Verena Riegler, Jeremy Stöhs, Bernhard Seyringer, and Thomas Goiser expounded upon various challenges to Austria and European security as well as new methods and approaches within the field of research.


© David Jaklin/ACIPSS

Reflections on the 27th ACIPSS Conference

The 27th ACIPSS conference, headed “New Research on the Roles of Resistance and Secret Services in World War II”, was held on April 19th 2018 at the LVAk in Vienna.

See the program (German) as well as the report (German) here, and a selection of pictures below.

(Pictures: Bundesheer/LVAk/Fahrngruber)

Impressions from the 26th ACIPSS Conference: Terrorismus: Akteure – Methoden – Bekämpfung

Subject of the conference held at LVAk on January 25th 2018 was the analysis and comparison of terrorism from past to present.
You can find pictures of the conference here (Twitter), and a summary in German here.

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Impressions from the 25th ACIPSS Conference: “Past and Present Perspectives on Security”

On Friday, 9 June 2017, the 25th ACIPSS Conference took place at the University of Graz. The programme as well as pictures from the event can be found here.


Impressions from the 24th ACIPSS Conference

On 2 December 2016, the 24th ACIPSS Conference entitled “Austrians in US Intelligence: Structures – Cultures – Effects” took place at the Diplomatic Academy Vienna. The detailed program as well as pictures from the event can be found here.acipss_24_at_plakat

Reflections of the 23rd ACIPSS Conference

On 17 June 2016, the 23rd ACIPSS Working Conference took place entitled “Intelligence Services since 1945: Experiences and Reform“. With Wilhelm Dietl (BND) and Cees Wiebes (senior analyst for the Dutch Counter-Terrorism Coordinator), also two former practitioners participated as speakers. You can find the detailed program here. Pictures of the conference are available via the ACIPSS media server.Programm_AT_23_Poster

Reflections of the 22nd ACIPSS Conference

Here you can find the programme as well as pictures and a television report by the Austrian Broadcasting Company (ORF) on the 22nd ACIPSS Conference, which was dedicated to the topic “Terrorism in Austria: Historical Experience and Present Danger” and took place at the Institute for Oriental Studies of the University of Vienna on 20th November 2015.

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Reflections of the 21st ACIPSS Conference

Here you can find the programme of the 21st ACIPSS Conference.

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Reflections of the 20th ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 19th ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 18th ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 17th ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 16th ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 15th ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 14th ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 13th ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 12th ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 11th ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 10th ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 9th ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 8th ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 7th ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 6th ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 5th ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 4th ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 3rd ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 2nd ACIPSS Conference

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Reflections of the 1st ACIPSS Conference

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