• Credit: Getty
    Credit: Getty

Opening speakers at the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) conference yesterday were optimistic with the progress government has made on the cyber front.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, Director General Designate of the Australian Signals Directorate Mike Burgess (to be a stand alone statutory authority come July 1, incorporating CERT Australia from the Attorney General’s department and a small contingent from the Digital Transformation Agency), and the government’s national cyber security advisor Alistair MacGibbon all acknowledged the opportunities and risks of the cyber environment.

Earlier this year global technology giant NEC Australia opened its $4.38 million Global Security Intelligence Centre (GSIC) in Adelaide to address growing global demand for cyber security.
Australia's admission of an offensive cyber capability is a global first.

The focus of the event had a strong civil/whole of government flavour but defence elements were also addressed as new capabilities are stood up.

“We need to protect our digital border as much as we do our geographic ones,” Dutton said, referring to the work the government is doing in preventing child exploitation online. Dutton also cited the statistic that a new child exploitation site opens every nine minutes globally.

In April 2016, Prime Minister Turnbull confirmed that Australia has an offensive cyber capability. A series of official disclosures have provided further detail, including that Australia will use this capability against offshore cybercriminals. This was the first time any state has announced such a policy.

However, this commendably transparent approach to telegraphing our capability and intentions hasn’t been without challenges.

“The time for incremental change is over,” MacGibbon told the ACSC delegates. “We need to do more and we are. We’re doing everything that the 2016 strategy asked for and what government has asked of us since then as well.”

The conference follows the opening of Australia’s first cyber CRC in Perth last week, with an initial government investment of $50 million kicking off the program that sees 25 companies, government agencies and research bodies gathered together.

“We’re never going to be able to declare victory when it comes to cyber security, it’s a constant effort,” MacGibbon said as he explained that the fifth Joint Cyber Security Centre site is about to open.

For more on cyber security, keep an eye out for the May print edition of ADM.

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