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Defence’s role in cyber security


On 21 April 2016, the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, announced the Australian Government’s Cyber Security Strategy. The strategy sets out the Government’s approach to meeting the dual challenges of the digital age: advancing and protecting our interests online.

Australian Government Cyber Security Centre
Australian Government Cyber Security Centre

As the agency responsible for national cyber security policy, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet conducted a review of Australia’s cyber security requirements and risks. The Cyber Security Strategy is the Government’s response to the review and centres on five key themes:

  • a national cyber partnership
  • strong cyber defences
  • global responsibility and influence
  • growth and innovation
  • a cyber-smart nation.

The Australian Government will provide around $230 million over four years to fund the initiatives in the Cyber Security Strategy. The strategy’s funding complements the Government’s 2016 Defence White Paper investment of $400 million in cyber capabilities over the next decade.

The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) is the lead agency in the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) and will deliver a number of the key initiatives under the strategy. These include:

  • increasing ASD’s capacity to identify vulnerabilities in Australian Government systems through increased active vulnerabilities assessments and provide technical security advice and assistance on emerging technologies
  • increasing ASD’s capacity and capability to identify new and emerging cyber threats
  • improving intrusion analysis capabilities
  • relocating the ACSC to a new facility
  • focusing on recruitment and retention of skilled specialists.

The Prime Minister also announced that Defence’s offensive cyber capabilities would complement the existing defensive cyber capabilities available to defend Australia’s interests in cyberspace.

Since the release of the strategy, ASD has implemented a dedicated program to recruit cyber specialists and work is underway to relocate the ACSC to a new facility. Significant work and collaboration to implement the initiatives under the Cyber Security Strategy will be undertaken in 2016–17. Defence is committed to achieving these outcomes with its partners across government.