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Thursday, 06 August 2020 15:36

Australian Government launches new $1.67b cyber security strategy Featured


The Australian Government is investing $1.67 billion in its 2020 cyber security strategy which it says will protect and strengthen the security and resilience of Australia’s critical infrastructure, and ensure law enforcement agencies have the powers and technical capabilities to detect, target, investigate and disrupt cyber crime – including on the dark Web.

The Morrison Government announced on Thursday that it would invest $1.67 billion 2020 in the new cyber security strategy, which it says is the largest ever Australian Government financial commitment to cyber security – and “builds on the strong foundations established by its predecessor” as well as building “new cyber security and law enforcement capabilities, to protect the essential services upon which we all depend, assist businesses to protect themselves and raise the community’s understanding of how to be secure online”.  

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government's role was to keep Australian’s safe, and "it is important now, more than ever to protect Australians online from those who seek to do us harm”.

“The 2020 Strategy means that cyber security is a fundamental part of everyday life, so Australians can reap the benefits of the Internet and the digital economy safely, and with confidence,” he said.

“The digital economy is the future of Australia’s economy. This has been demonstrated by the coronavirus pandemic. We are seeing how much Australian’s are interacting online – for work, healthcare, education, entertainment and shopping.

“We want to enlist all Australians in the fight to create a more cyber safe Australia – you are our secret weapon in our cyber security strategy. And we want to give you the tools to protect your family and your business.

“We will protect our vital infrastructure and services from cyber attacks. We will support businesses to protect themselves so they can succeed in the digital economy. We will track criminals in the darkest corners of the internet to protect our families and children.”

The government says it is determined to disrupt the serious criminal activity saturating the dark Web, and will introduce legislation to bolster the powers of the Australian Federal Police and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission to identify individuals and their networks engaging in serious criminal activity on the dark web.  

“Powers that allow offensive disruption capabilities will allow law enforcement to take the fight to the digital front door of those using anonymising technology for evil purposes,” the Government said. 

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the protection of children and the Australian community from reprehensible criminal activity remained the government’s highest priority.

“Paedophiles are targeting kids on line in chat groups. Cyber criminals are scamming money off our elderly by stealing their internet banking details and businesses are being locked out of their systems by ransomware attacks,” he said. 

“Families and businesses are all spending more time working and studying online and we need to make it safer. They are stealing the identities and data from unsuspecting Australians. 

“We will continue to ensure agencies have the powers and capabilities they need to identify and disrupt threats to the safety of Australians – particularly children, the most vulnerable members of our community.” 

Morrison said that not all cyber security risks could be addressed by government, and the strategy outlined steps businesses of all sizes could take to protect themselves and their customers – and to support improved cyber security in the community, the government would:

  • Expand efforts to raise awareness of cyber security threats and drive uptake of safe and secure online behaviours across the community;
  • Expand a 24/7 cyber security advice hotline for families and older Australians; 
  • Increase funding for victim support; and 
  • Introduce a voluntary Internet of Things Code of Practice to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. 

“Improving the security and resilience of critical infrastructure entities is crucial to protecting our economy, security, and sovereignty,” Morrison said.

“We are introducing a security framework to bolster the nation’s resilience and ensure we can act quickly in an emergency. The framework includes security obligations for critical infrastructure providers and Government assistance to industry in response to immediate and serious cyber attacks on Australia’s most critical systems.”

Dutton said reforms to strengthen the security and resilience of Australia’s critical infrastructure would significantly boost Australia’s ability to deter, prevent and respond to the most significant cyber attacks. 

“The government will work with owners and operators of critical infrastructure to update legislation to ensure that critical infrastructure sectors deliver their essential services with security front of mind,” he said.

"Agencies will be equipped to help address sophisticated threats, particularly to the essential services all Australians rely on – everything from electricity and water, to healthcare and groceries.”

The government’s strategy has been informed by extensive community consultation and expert advice from its Industry Advisory Panel, chaired by Telstra chief executive Andrew Penn.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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