How does an organisation that existed in secrecy for decades, and has protecting secrets in its motto, approach telling its history?
It may seem antithetical to everything the Australian Signals Directorate is about, but the cyber spooks are opening the door, and the records, to an outsider as part of a bid to record its official story.
John Blaxland, Professor of International Security and Intelligence Studies at the Australian National University's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, has today been named as the author of the directorate's official history.
"ASD's motto is 'Reveal their secrets. Protect our own.' but on our 75th anniversary we will reveal some of our secrets," Australian Signals Directote director-general Mike Burgess said.
"It might seem incongruous for an intelligence agency to be telling stories and revealing secrets," the director-general said.
"Traditionally, we've been listeners rather than talkers. But I want the public to understand how we protect Australia from global threats and operate within the spirit and the letter of the law."
Mr Burgess emphasised the importance of telling the stories of the directorate's staff and their successes and sacrifices.
The book won't cover the full 75 years, going up to 2001, and will start with the directorate's inception during World War II, when officers from the army, navy and air force were brought together to intercept and decode Japanese radio signals.
Since then the Australian Signals Directorate has experienced perhaps the biggest change in its remit of any of Australia's intelligence agencies. Now it's responsible not only for signals intelligence but protecting Australia's cyber security interests and even disruptive cyber operations.
Since becoming a statutory agency last year, the directorate has engaged in a public relations campaign in which it's been revealed how the agency targeted the Islamic State's cyber communications and disrupted terrorist networks.
Mr Burgess praised Professor Blaxland, with his experience as one of the lead writers of the three-volume history of the Australian Secret Intelligence Organisation one of his strengths.
"John Blaxland is ideally and uniquely placed to lead this exciting project," he said.
"John has an in-depth, front-line understanding of Australia's intelligence community."
Professor Blaxland said he was excited to delve into the history.
"This is a uncharted territory and that's something very exciting to be able to explore this otherwise extremely secret space that's been locked away from prying eyes, both foreign and domestically, for generations and to be the person who is the facilitator of an understanding of the workings of ASD from its inception to today is an exciting privilege."
The history of ASIO included moments in history the organisation would rather have forgotten, but allowed to be written about. Professor Blaxland said he was prepared to go down a similar road with the directorate.
"I'm assuming there will be some warts but to be honest I don't know what I'm going to find."
"I know there are people who we will interview who have conflicting accounts of what ASD and its predecessors have done and the consequences of what it's done and how important that is for Australia."
"So my job will to be accurately and fairly represent those conflicting views informed by the raw material, the archival records, the interviews of people involved and to distill from the masses of information a coherent narrative that does justice to the spectrum of issues involved."
Professor Blaxland says ASD has moved to be more public with Australians as its role has become more public.
What's happened is the world has changed - ASD never had a public role in the past for which there was a compelling need for an explanation to the Australian public - that has changed."
"ASD is now operating in a cyber domain that has implications for Australian society in a way that ASD's predecessor organisations never faced and so as we go into this new uncharted cyber territory, it's important that Australians understand how and why this organisation operated, where it's come from, what it's done, and whats it's doing."
Professor Blaxland will lead the project, with emeritus professor David Horner as a consulting historian and a team of research assistants.