Government’s cybersecurity Budget commitment: unknown

Budget 2019 strengthens national cybersecurity posture, but amount remains a mystery as industry reminds government on need for skills, industry development

Credit: ID 27532718 © Jason Bennée | Dreamstime.com

The cybersecurity industry has responded positively to the cybersecurity measures within the 2019 federal Budget, which have been spearheaded by an unquantified “cyber uplift” to bolster government security and protect the upcoming election from compromise.

That funding, allocated under the Defence portfolio, will “provide funding to enhance cyber security arrangements for whole-of-government systems in relation to the 2019 Federal election,” Budget Papers explain.

The creation of cyber ‘Sprint Teams’ within the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) and a Cyber Security Response Fund will help with the effort, which also seeks to “mitigate potential cyber threats through enhanced monitoring and response capabilities.”

The measure is the only Budget expense specifically targeted at cyber capabilities, but its focus on protecting national interests led Bede Hackney, ANZ country manager with Tenable, to welcome the government’s investment against a “relentless” cyber threat.

“The threat of a major cyberattack in Australia cannot be overstated,” he said in a statement.

“This funding will bolster Australia’s cybersecurity capability and go a long way in delivering the solutions which ensure the safety of its businesses and citizens. Cybersecurity must be a strategic focus and the government should be commended for acting now."

Simon Howe, APAC sales director with LogRhythm, was hopeful that the government’s investment would have a flow-on effect into the Australian business community, which has been steadily investing in better analytics capabilities that he said are invaluable in meeting the cybersecurity threat.

“Risk factors can be identified with better and more timely data analysis,” he said. “Everything from behavioural analysis to trending targets can be identified, reviewed and ‘de-risked’ with better intelligence.”

Others were hoping cybersecurity capabilities would be included within the $512m funding boost for the Australian Federal Police and $58m for ASIO, which would be exploring initiatives in areas such as artificial intelligence.

The boost to national cybersecurity defences may have sent the right signals, but industry leaders were less enthusiastic about the government’s investments in developing cybersecurity skills – , and in industry development.

Aura Information Security Australia country manager Michael Warnock noted the government’s investment would “help build trust at all levels of the economy” but warned that the industry needs “investments in both specialist cyber skills and broader awareness programs.”

High-level investments in cybersecurity defences would hopefully drive benefits for Australian suppliers and provide new channels for local industry development, Warnock said.

Phil Kernick, chief technology officer with CQR Consulting, was equally hopeful that the expenditure would translate into real cybersecurity industry development.

“The budget focusing on skills and awareness programs is a positive move, but we would like to see more support for local cyber security businesses,” he said.

“Companies like ours are at the coalface of cyber awareness and solutions and it is important for the government to incubate and support the local technology and services industry. A healthy Australian cyber security industry will help attract the best talent to the profession and carve out a new export potential.”

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More about ANZAPACASIOAura Information SecurityAustraliaAustralian Federal PoliceFederal PoliceLogRhythmSprintTenable

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