The Battle of the Cloud: The Digital Front
- 06 September, 2018 11:00
Over the past two decades, cyber-security has come to be synonymous with national security. This is because with so many assets such as the new Hunter class Type 26 global combat ship, 5th Generation aircraft, and troop communication relying on technology connected to a Command Centre to function, these bases can quickly turn into military targets for a cyber-attack from an enemy nation. Sensitive information about the location and staffing of military bases and spy outposts around the world, has been revealed by a fitness tracking company through apps such as Strava.
As government agencies aggressively move towards the cloud under the theme of digital transformation, government officials must decide how Australia can protect itself from malicious operators. Given how quickly sensitive information can be shared over the internet once accessed, government leaders need be ready to mitigate any leaks or attacks instantly.
One way to proactively safeguard our nation’s interests is to move all sensitive government data to a secure cloud platform. When secure government cloud practices are enabled, countries who are being targeted by hackers or rogue nation-states will have a better of chance of keeping them at bay.
Getting Data off the Ground and into the Cloud
The Australian Government holds a plethora of sensitive information in addition to citizen’s data. For example, classified defence information through to data that although not labelled could be considered sensitive such as our Governments everyday Parliamentary communications is stored in various locations around Australia and vulnerable to physical damage and espionage. By moving sensitive government data to a secure cloud, government officials can access this data remotely and safely.
In emergency situations it is vital for Australia’s leaders that they be able to access critical information wherever they might be in Australia or around the world. Interconnectedness is a necessity for government officials and the ability to collaborate and share sensitive data within secure confines is imperative for a government to function.
Security Status: Critical
Cyber security is not only a major concern of Government agencies but also the Australian armed forces. Locking things up with a key and safe is no longer an acceptable practice to store sensitive government information. The first problem, is that there are no safety boxes big enough to house all the Australian military data. Secondly, the government must ensure appropriate security measures are regulated to ensure a data breach cannot happen. Recently documents “securely stored” in file cabinets have embarrassingly ended up in the wrong hands and government contractors have lost secret military files. With cloud security in place, this is no longer a risk.
The government must stand by its plan to only certify certain clouds for storing protected data. Along with cloud certification, all sensitive data should be encrypted so that only people with privileged access can access these files. Additional steps can be taken such as the application of blockchain and biometrics to ensure verification. With Australian Signals Directorate certified protected cloud and additional security measures in place, the government can be confident that military and government data is secure.
Sovereignty is King
In time of global crisis, treaties and laws regarding data storage can become obsolete on an international stage. This is significant as government officials will not want valuable data stored in a foreign country who may decide to appropriate all data stored under their jurisdiction for national security purposes. This would have major security, commercial and personal implications for Australian citizens and businesses. The only way to guarantee that data stays secure is to store it within a sovereign Australian cloud, where cloud storage providers adhere to Australian jurisdiction and the employees are vetted and cleared by the Australian government.
Being a Strategic
Cyberattacks against government agencies are by nature intended to disrupt the smooth operation of a sovereign government. Russia’s alleged influence over the US elections in 2016 and North Korea’s supposed ransomware attacks in 2017 will not be the last time we witness national affairs being meddled with by foreign countries.
Keeping data safe and allowing for government employees to work seamlessly across technology platforms is essential if government agencies want to ensure classified data stays safe and secure. It is essential the leaders of Australia address the most strategic way to guarantee the Australian data does not become collateral damage in an international cyberwar or hack. In an age where data is the target, secure and sovereign cloud storage is the solution.