Australian Government orders urgent national cyber strategy review

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has used the official opening of the Australian Cyber Security Centre in Canberra to announce another review of Australia’s cyber security strategy, with a report to be provided in just six months.

Mr Abbott on Thursday revealed that the review, which will be led by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet will be assisted by a panel of experts including Business Council of Australia head Jennifer Westacott, Telstra’s Chief Information Security Officer, Mike Burgess, the director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre Dr Tobias Feakin and the Chief Security and Trust Officer at Cisco Systems in the United States, Mr John Stewart.

The latest probe into Australia’s cyber security arrangements signifies a return of top level oversight and potentially coordination back to the PM’s office against the present division of duties split between the Department of Communication, the Attorney General’s Department and the Department of Defence.

In terms of the ground the latest cyber review will cover, the government has made its mandate flexibly broad.

Specifically, the Prime Minister’s office has said the review will:

  • assess the risk of cyber attacks in the public and private sectors with a view to making our online systems more resilient to attack;
  • examine how government and industry can better work together to reduce the risk of cyber attacks;
  • assess how Government protects its networks and information; and
  • work to ensure we are one step ahead of the threats to government networks and critical infrastructure.

“By 2017, more than nine out of ten Australians will be routinely online and Australian businesses and consumers benefit from the opportunities an interconnected world delivers. However, there are also risks,” the PM’s Office said in a statement.

“Australia faces real and growing cyber threats. Last year alone, the Australian Signals Directorate responded to 940 cyber incidents involving Government agencies, a 37 per cent increase on the previous year.”

According to the PM’s Office “the direct cost of cyber-crime to Australia in the past 12 months is estimated to be more than $1 billion.”