Panel to review Australian government's cybersecurity readiness

Abbott said it was high time for a review as the online security

A six-month review of Australia's cybersecurity defences will be undertaken to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the nation's cybersecurity strategy, prime minister Tony Abbott has announced.

Speaking at the launch of the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) in Canberra today, Abbott said it was high time for a review as the online security posture had changed significantly in the six years since the last review of the country's defences.

That review led to the creation of the ACSC, which is encapsulated within ASIO's new headquarters and was the subject of a significant funding commitment by former PM Julia Gillard when she committed $1.46 billion to the creation of the centre in January 2013.

The centre, which was by far the largest single IT-related investment in the last Federal budget, brings together a variety of previously disparate cyber-security teams from organisations including the Australian Crime Commission, Australian Federal Police, ASIO, the Australian Signals Directorate and the Attorney General Department's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) Australia.

The review will be led by a panel including Jennifer Westacott, CEO of the Business Council of Australia; Cisco Systems chief trust officer John Stewart; Telstra chief information security officer Mike Burgess; and Dr Tobias Feakin, director of the International Cyber Policy Centre at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Its terms of engagement, as set out in the prime minister's announcement, will include an assessment of the risk of cyber attacks in the public and private sectors “with a view to making our online systems more resilient to attack”; examine public-private partnerships to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks; evaluate the government's protection of its networks and information; and “work to ensure we are one step ahead of the threats to government networks and critical infrastructure”.

The announcement also pegged the direct cost of cyber crime to Australia at more than $1 billion over the past 12 months, with the Australian Signals Directorate alone dealing with 940 “cyber incidents involving government agencies”. That's a 37 percent increase on the previous year.

“The Centre will build an understanding of the threats we face and help our security agencies respond more quickly and effectively to the growing problem of cyber attacks,” the prime minister's office said in a statement.

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

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Tags cybersecurityEnex TestLabcybersecurity strategyTony Abbottcybersecurity defencesJennifer WestacottCyber Security Centre (ACSC)Australian GovernmentCSO Australia

More about ASIOAustralian Crime CommissionAustralian Federal PoliceComputer Emergency Response TeamCSOEnex TestLabFederal PoliceStrategic Policy

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