Modern Australian

cash for cyberpolice and training, but the cyberdevil is in the cyberdetail

  • Written by Damien Manuel, Director, Centre for Cyber Security Research & Innovation (CSRI), Deakin University

Australia’s long-awaited cybersecurity strategy, released yesterday, pledges to spend A$1.67 billion over the next ten years to improve online protection for businesses, individuals and the country as a whole.

The lion’s share of the cash will go towards policing and intelligence, with smaller amounts set aside for a grab bag of programs from cybersecurity training to digital ID. Much detail remains to be revealed, and whether the strategy succeeds in improving in the safety of all Australians will depend on how well it is executed over the coming decade.

Read more: Our cybersecurity isn't just under attack from foreign states. There are holes in the government's approach

The winners

As already announced on June 30, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) (which is based within the ASD) are big winners. They will jointly receive A$1.35 billion over the next ten years.

The funding will be used to:

  • fight cybercrime

  • build a new system to share information with industry about the tactics and operations of hackers, criminal syndicates and hostile foreign governments

  • implement technology and processes to block malicious websites and viruses before they reach millions of Australians

  • expand data science and intelligence capabilities (in other words, more cyber spies)

  • establish new research laboratories

  • transform the Joint Cyber Security Centres managed by the ACSC, including the placement of outreach officers to help support small and medium-sized businesses.

These businesses will be able to contact the ACSC for online cyber training to upskill staff and access a round-the-clock helpdesk for advice and assistance. It’s unclear how the government plans to assess this service, but high-quality advice and rapid response will be the keys for success.

The government will also implement an awareness campaign targeting small business, older Australians and Australian families to help improve community cyber safety. This is a long overdue measure, but it will need to be sustained and to resonate with the target audience to change the security culture and behaviour of Australians.

The losers

The remaining A$320 million, or A$32 million per year over ten years, will be spread over many programs largely aimed at businesses and the education sector.

Large businesses and service providers will be “encouraged” by the federal government to create tools and bundles of secure services to offer to small businesses. The cost of these secure services is unclear.

How the promised “encouragement” will occur is also open to interpretation. It may be the stick approach, with legislation, or the carrot, via tax incentives or grants.

This strategy has its dangers. The federal government may appear to be picking winners and losers in a complex ecosystem of service providers.

Wait and see

Cyber security professionals will be regulated to ensure clear professional standards, like plumbers and electricians. This is a good thing, but again, the details will be extremely important, such as who performs the accreditation, what framework they use, and how the program is overseen.

Businesses and academia will also receive yet more “encouragement”, this time to partner together to find innovative new ways to improve cyber security skills. This means an injection of A$26.5m into the Cyber Skill Partnership Innovation Fund, as part of the Cyber Security National Workforce Growth Program.

The fund will help support scholarships, apprenticeships, retraining initiatives, internships and other activities that meet the need of businesses. It sounds exciting, but again it is light on details and metrics.

Read more: Australia's National Digital ID is here, but the government's not talking about it

The strategy also discusses using digital identities such as myGovID to “make accessing online services easier and safer”. While this will help prevent identity theft and may be more convenient, it does raise the spectre of the return of the Australia Card concept. This national central identity register was proposed by the Hawke government in 1985.

We can also expect to see additional legislation introduced later this year, forcing critical infrastructure and systems of national significance to improve their cyber security. This is no bad thing, but it is unclear whether consumers or government will end up paying for it.

Execution of the strategy will be key

An Industry Advisory Committee will be established to guide and oversee the implementation of the strategy. Members of this extremely important committee are yet to be announced.

To be effective, the committee needs to include people from a variety of sectors such as healthcare, retail, manufacturing, finance, agriculture and education. As the government’s strategy makes clear, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for cyber security. The members of the committee must reflect a wide range of needs and diversity.

It is too early to tell whether the proposed strategy will deliver the right outcomes for Australian organisations, families and individuals. Until the strategy is executed, we won’t know whether and how it will deliver the promised safety improvements for all Australians.

Authors: Damien Manuel, Director, Centre for Cyber Security Research & Innovation (CSRI), Deakin University

Read more


Every year in Australia, nature grows 8 new trees for you — but that alone won't fix climate change

ShutterstockFrom Tasmania’s majestic forest giants to the eucalypt on your nature strip, trees in Australia are many, varied and sometimes huge. But how many are there exactly? And how does...

The bad bits of ParentsNext just came back

NIKOLAY OSMACHKO/PexelsOn Monday “mutual obligation” was switched back on for programs such as ParentsNext.In the case of ParentsNext that means parents selected for it are required to attend initial and...

5 ways to support your child to stress less and do better

ShutterstockYear 12 exams can be stressful at the best of times; this is particularly true for the Class of 2020. Here are five ways parents and carers of Year 12...

God, plagues and pestilence – what history can teach us about living through a pandemic

Anthony Van Dyck's Saint Rosalie Interceding for the Plague-stricken of Palermo/The Conversation (with apologies)Most of us are living through a year that is unprecedented in our lifetimes. Too young to...

it's possible — how we can create a fairer, greener Australia beyond COVID

Joe Castro/AAPWe are living through the greatest disruption of the postwar era; what is likely to be the defining historical period of our lives. And the disrupter is a piece...

Facebook is merging Messenger and Instagram chat features. It's for Zuckerberg's benefit, not yours

Facebook Messenger and Instragram’s direct messaging services will be integrated into one system, Facebook has announced. The merge will allow shared messaging across both platforms, as well as video calls...

how to time a bombshell like Trump's tax returns

It’s unlikely The New York Times’ publication of Donald Trump’s tax records just before the first presidential candidates’ debate was a coincidence.This looks like a classic example of what political...

The 5-prong plan for a budget that will set us up for the future

For three decades, Australia’s economic story has been marked by abundance and wealth. Much of it has flowed from minerals, and a good deal more from earlier economic reforms.COVID-19 has...

Vaccine refusers are health literate and believe they're pro-science. But this just reinforces their view

Australians belonging to the vaccine refusal movement consider themselves a science advocacy group, according to a study published today.My colleagues and I found this group believes it lobbies for unbiased...

Can colonialism be reversed? The UN's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides some answers

Can a state built upon the “taking of another people’s lands, lives and power” ever really be just?Colonialism can’t be reversed, so at a simple level the answer is no.But...

With the election looming and New Zealand First struggling in the polls, where have those populist votes gone?

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters on the campaign trail in late September.GettyImagesWinston Peters has long been described as a populist, both in New Zealand and internationally. At different times...

Federal government did not prepare aged care sector adequately for COVID: royal commission

The royal commission into aged care has said government did not prepare the sector well enough for the pandemic.In a damning report the commission rejected the government’s repeated claim it...

News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion

Popular articles from Modern Australian

6 Stunning Ways to Spruce Up Your HouseHome renovations in hot climatesThree of the best detective games for mystery loversAuto Wrecker in NewcastleExperience the Excitement of a Day at the Races How Do You Know If You Need A Hearing Aid?Fitness Tips: 3 Ways to Stay in Shape At HomeWear a Mask and protect yourself in StyleWellness expert:  Cutting up your fruit cuts the goodness out of themRegain Your Natural Smile Getting Porcelain Crowns in MelbourneIs Photography Still Important In 2020?Thinking of Hiring a Boat? Check these Facts FirstDo You Know that Certain Serious Athletic Injuries Can Turn into Medical Malpractice?Most In-Demand Suburbs for Property Buyers in Australia Post Covid-19What Is Selective High School?