NBN Co PSPF compliance and the ASD’s Top 4: Malcolm Shore

NBN Co is now nearly two years into its Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF) compliance program, and has come a long way from when it started, says Dr Malcolm Shore, principal security officer at NBN Co.

Shore spoke about NBN Co’s road to PSPF compliance at the recent CSO Perspectives Roadshow held in Melbourne.

“When NBN Co was set up, there really wasn’t any direction around security,” he says. And only after getting started, was it invited to adopt PSPF.

“From a compliance point of view, we didn’t debate the issue,” says Shore. “We complied because we were invited to by our shareholders. But since then, PSPF has been mandated for every Commonwealth Authority and Company (CAC) so we would have been forced to comply anyway.”

The security team at NBN Co only came into existence in early 2012, so full compliance was quite an achievement for the security team, says Shore. Especially considering that in early 2013, the PSPF changed to also include the Australian Signals Directorate’s (formerly DSD) “Top 4 Mitigation Strategies”.

Shore says when the Top 4 Strategies were introduced he asked his executive team if full compliance was still realistic following the late introduction of the new controls.

The government, he says, was still expecting NBN Co to report against the controls including the ASD’s top four strategies, but it was prepared to be understanding about actual compliance with the Top 4 given the late addition.

Nevertheless, NBN Co insisted on full compliance by June 2013, says Shore.

“The ASD Top 4 was something of a fast challenge for us,” he surmised, but they were achieved.

Seoul Conference on Cyberspace 2013

Clearly familiar with the ASD’s Top 4 Mitigation Strategies, Shore also reflected on his attendance at the Seoul Conference on Cyberspace 2013, where the Top 4 strategies, to his amusement, emerged once again.

The Seoul Conference on Cyberspace is the third in a series of forums founded in London in 2011 in order to establish a minimum common ground across countries on cybercrime, international security and the social benefits of the Internet.

The conference was attended by 43 foreign ministers, and Shore was invited to attend as part of the Australian delegation led by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop.

In particular, Shore quotes Jane Lute, former US Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security and CEO of the Council of Cybersecurity, who said, “You know, there’s an easy answer. Everyone should just apply Australia’s Top 4 Mitigation Strategies. They’re free, they’re simple, and everyone should just turn them on.

“Has anyone tried to do that?” Shore asks. “I have, and you don’t just turn them on.”

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