Last month The Australian Federal Government announced its cyber security policy with a $230 million commitment.
A large percentage of the funds will go toward ‘building cyber defences’ directed at neutralising attacks from outside of Australia’s borders.
There will be a raft of new appointments including a cyber ambassador, a special advisor on cyber security in the Prime Minister’s department, in addition to a new minister who will assist Prime Minister Turnbull on cyber security.
The Australian Cyber Security Centre, which is based in Canberra, will reach out to businesses to disseminate relevant information, while each capital city in the country will eventually establish a ‘threat sharing centre.’
The new policy involves the recruitment of more police and cyber specialists who will not only be charged with implementing a deterrence programme but will also be charged with establishing a tactical response to any cyber assault.
The government have identified Iran, Russia, China and North Korea as ‘suspect’ territories from which cyber attacks have been launched on Australian interests, targeting organisations as well as private citizens.
Organised crime and state government agencies are thought to be the major perpetrators for what the Australian Government has called ‘malicious cyber activities’.
97 federal agencies experience hundreds of attempted breaches a month, the government has revealed.
In making the announcement, Turnbull told media that he could now confirm reports that the Department of Meteorology and the Department of Parliamentary Services were subject to cyber “intrusions” in recent years.
Still, he did not reveal any details on these breaches in terms of what was being ‘attacked’ and what kind of damage may have been inflicted.
“The Australian Crime Commission estimates the annual cost of cyber crime to Australia is over $1 billion in direct costs,” the Prime Minister said.
“Some estimates put the real cost at 1% of GDP a year or about $17 billion.”
In describing the new policy, Turnbull said that “while cyber security measures sit at the forefront of our response to cyber threats defensive measures may not be always adequate to serious cyber incidents against Australian networks.”
The Prime Minister outlined a “range of resources” that could be mobilised in response to cyber security breaches including law enforcement, diplomatic or economic measures.
“An offensive cyber capability housed in the Australian Signals Directorate provides another option for government to respond,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that such measures would be subject to strict legal oversight and all of the conventional international agreements and regulations already in place.
He said that to acknowledge this kind of offensive capability adds “a level of deterrence.”
The new announcement is a timely one as the age of the Internet of Things is gaining traction amidst community concerns over increased security vulnerability – a major challenge for innovative organisations.