Patrick Durrant | Sydney
A national security advisor and former architect of the Government's 2015 cyber security strategy all but confirmed to the ABC that China has most likely been behind some of the most serious cyber breaches to have occurred of late and said sharing of threat information was critical for cyber security.
Michelle Price, now a senior adviser on national security at the ANU's National Security College, and formerly a cyber specialist in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, said the modus operandi of the attacks experienced was very similar to overseas attacks in which the Chinese had been implicated.
"I think that the evidence is quite clear that China is very active in cyber space. Increasingly though, we are seeing a lot of the patterns associated with the behaviours that have been called out overseas happening here in Australia."
"The Government has certainly suffered some reputational damage over the years in relation to cyber space."
Price told ABC Radio program The World Today she wasn't surprised by the attacks as Australia had plenty of IP that "was attractive to any malicious actor in cyber space". She saw the increase in "pace, scale and reach" of the attacks as a warning that our focus on cyber security needed to be sharpened.
Price seemed content that for now most of the attacks were unsuccessful and stressed the Government had "some pretty robust cyber defences", particularly where national security was concerned, but she admitted it was often a case of "not if, but when".
She said sharing of threat information was critical in the fight against the emerging threats.
"No one organisation can tackle this challenge alone."
Trying to 'silo' the effort was not the answer and Price said the strategy she helped to produce had promoted the benefit of "partnership, leadership, sharing, co-design and the public and private sectors working very closely together".
She thought the reluctance to share on the part of some was "because we don't yet quite understand just how much is at stake here".
"I think first and foremost though what we do understand is that reputation is at stake and the Government has certainly suffered some reputational damage over the years in relation to cyber space."
Other disincentives for organisations, according to Price, were legal ramifications and the economic implications of cyber insurance.
"We need to change that and create many more incentives so that we can defend the nation in a much more consolidated and focused way," she said.
While government certainly had a role in leadership and increasing understanding and awareness in the community, Price said for organisations a top down approach from the executive team or board was necessary to engender a culture that understood the importance of cyber security.