In March, ASD concluded that China’s Ministry of State Security was responsible for a cyber-attack on its parliament and three political parties [File: Jason Reed/Reuters]

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday appointed Rachel Noble as the first woman to head a major Australian spy agency.

Noble will become next director-general of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), which intercepts electronic communications from foreign countries.

“Her appointment to this leadership role is a significant step forward for women in the national security sector and we congratulate her,” Morrison and Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said in a statement.

Noble, who will begin her new role in February 2020, will lead the ASD at a time when Australia is increasingly concerned about cyber-attacks.

She replaces Mike Burgess,

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