Advancing and protecting Australia’s interests online

News item | 07-12-2016

Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy was announced by the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP on 21 April 2016. The Strategy sets out five themes for Australia’s cyber security from now to 2020 and is supported by a $230 million investment in practical initiatives.  The Strategy will be implemented with the assistance of a newly appointed Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Cyber Security and Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security.

Written by: Office of the Cyber Security Special Adviser, Australia 

Australia’s 2016 Cyber Security Strategy builds on Australia’s 2009 Strategy to embrace opportunities created by cyberspace and reinforce Australia’s role as an international leader in cyber security. In launching the Strategy on 21 April, Prime Minister the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, spoke of the Internet’s transformational impact on Australia and the world: “there is no global institution or infrastructure more important to the future prosperity and freedom of our global community than the Internet itself.” Online and mobile technology are both essential for business growth and connecting people across all sectors of society, in their private, commercial and government interactions.  Australia has been quick to benefit from the growth and expansion of the Internet:  in 2014, the Internet-based economy contributed $79 billion to our national economy, a figure which is rapidly growing.

The Strategy charts a clear role for the Australian Government to grow Australia’s cyber security capability, to anticipate and to respond to cyber threats and to work internationally to promote norms of behaviour that are consistent with a free, open and secure Internet.  Working with the private sector, which owns the infrastructure, the Australian Government is also leading the effort to ensure all Australians have an understanding of the real-world impacts of cyber risks and the way they affect our current and future prosperity. Australians will have the cyber security skills and knowledge to thrive in the digital age.

Australians are becoming increasingly connected online. Credits for illustrations: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Five Action Themes

The Australian Government’s Cyber Security Strategy sets out five themes to strengthen Australia’s cyber security from now to 2020:

  1. A national cyber partnership: set and drive the strategic cyber security agenda through engagement with business and the research community and streamlining cyber security governance.
  2. Strong cyber defences: raise the bar on cyber security performance and encourage sharing threat information within public and private sectors.
  3. Global responsibility and influence: champion an open, free and secure internet with our international partners and build capacity in our region and globally.
  4. Growth and innovation: support the cyber security sector to diversify and develop new markets and allow all businesses to grow and proposer through cyber innovation.
  5. A cyber smart nation: improve cyber security awareness, address skills shortages and develop a highly-skilled cyber security workforce.  

Each theme is supported by actions for the Government and private sector.  Many of these actions recognise that no single sector – Government, business, academia or the general community – can of itself ensure cyber security.  Cyber security is a global challenge that requires innovative thinking, creative solutions and engagement with all sectors of Australian society. 

“Only by acknowledging, explaining and analysing the problem can we hope to impose costs on perpetrators and empower our private citizens, government agencies and businesses to take effective security measures,” Prime Minister the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, launch of Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy, 21st April 2016.

Practical Initiatives

The Strategy is supported by a $230 million investment in practical initiatives co-designed with the private sector.  These include: establishing Joint Cyber Security Centres to share threat information between government, the private sector and academia; appointing a Cyber Ambassador to lead international engagement on cyber issues; and launching a Cyber Security Growth Centre with the private sector to co-ordinate a national cyber security innovation network.

The capability of Australian Government agencies to protect the Australian community by investigating and responding to cyber incidents is being enhanced through extra resources for Australia’s national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT Australia) and law enforcement agencies. The Strategy will also fund several collaborative initiatives such as joint exercises with the private sector, voluntary guidelines promoting good cyber security practice and voluntary cyber security governance health checks for ASX-100 listed companies.

Prime Minister Turnbull launches Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy

Implementing Australia’s strategy is a national priority being driven by the executive and the national cyber security key actors within Government. Australia recognises and embraces the massive opportunities presented by the digital age.  Australia’s new Cyber Security Strategy underpins that potential by cementing Australia’s role in protecting the online communications environment.

A key challenge for the strategy’s implementation is finding solutions to keep pace with the rapid growth of the technology industry. The Strategy must remain strategic by being responsive—a mere plan is insufficient for guiding Australia through the digital age. Strong and robust relationships with the private sector and academia are essential to co-designing successful initiatives and ultimately addressing the challenge of keeping pace. Engagement with these sectors, in new ways, has already begun and will unlock the potential of a free, open and secure internet.  

This article first appeared in the second issue of the Global Cyber Expertise Magazine – November 2016.