Australian Prime Minister outlines AUS$230 million cyber safety plan

CANBERRA, 21th April, 2016 (WAM) -- Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has outlined Australia’s new cyber security strategy, and the AUS$230 million worth of funding the government will be throwing at it over the next four years.

"The Australian Government has the tools to launch a cyber attack and they’re not afraid to use them," he said, while announcing the $230 million cyber security plan.

Speaking at Australian Technology Park in Sydney today, Turnbull said he hoped speaking frankly about the nation’s "offensive" cyber capabilities would act as a deterrent. "The government can draw on a range of options to respond, such as law enforcement, diplomatic, or economic measures," he said.

"An offensive cyber capability housed in the Australian Signals Directorate provides another option for government to respond. The use of such a capability is subject to stringent legal oversight and is consistent with our support for the international rules-based order and our obligations under international law."

The plan, comprising 33 measures designed to beef up Australia’s cyber safety, comes in response to a number of recent attacks. This includes the "significant cyber intrusion" of the Bureau of Meteorology last year and a similar breach at the Department of Parliamentary Services, Mr. Turnbull said.

He said that joint cyber threat centres and secure online sharing networks would also be introduced, and he said he wanted Australia to "lead the world" in cyber security. "And we have the brains and the imagination to do so," he said.

Mr. Turnbull said that the government would also attempt to employ cyber weapons in the fight against terrorism.

The strategy will consist of five key pillars: strengthening cyber defences, education, partnerships, research and development, and global awareness, according to Australian media reports.

The country’s existing Australian Cyber Security Centre will also be moved from the ASIO headquarters in Canberra to an undisclosed location for easier access to businesses.

Also new is that for the first time, the programme will give the government the ability to launch pre-emptive cyber attacks against hacker "safe havens". The government will work with allies to shut these safe havens down before they get a chance to strike as part of a global initiative.


WAM/tfaham/Moran