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Australia announces record investment in cyber security

cyber security
Illustration: Royal Australian Air Force file photo

The Australian government has announced what it says is the largest ever investment in cyber security, with $1.35 billion in contracts to be awarded over the next decade.

The enhancement of cyber security capabilities and assistance is provided through the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

The Cyber Enhanced Situational Awareness and Response (CESAR) package will allow the country to identify more cyber threats, disrupt more foreign cybercriminals, build more partnerships with industry and government and protect more Australians.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said malicious cyber activity against Australia is increasing in frequency, scale and sophistication.

“The federal government’s top priority is protecting our nation’s economy, national security and sovereignty. Malicious cyber activity undermines that.”

The CESAR package has been designed to boost protection and cyber resilience for all Australians, from individuals and small businesses through to the providers of critical services, including through:

New capabilities to disrupt and defeat malicious cyber activity, providing greater capacity to take the fight to cybercriminals offshore and to neutralise and block emerging cyber threats to Australia, including:

Over $31 million to enhance the ability of ASD to disrupt cybercrime offshore, taking the fight to foreign criminals that seek to target Australians, and providing assistance to federal, state and territory law enforcement agencies.

Over $35 million to deliver a new cyber threat-sharing platform, enabling industry and government to share intelligence about malicious cyber activity, and block emerging threats in near real-time.

Over $12 million towards new strategic mitigations and active disruption options, enabling ASD and Australia’s major telecommunications providers to prevent malicious cyber activity from ever reaching millions of Australians across the country by blocking known malicious websites and computer viruses at speed.

ASD will get over $118 million to expand its data science and intelligence capabilities, in addition to over $62 million to deliver a national situational awareness capability to better enable it to understand and respond to cyber threats on a national scale. This includes informing vulnerable sectors of the economy about threats most likely to impact them, coupled with tailored advice and assistance about how to mitigate cyber threats.

To deliver these capabilities and initiatives, the package also includes a $470 million investment to expand our cyber security workforce, with the creation of over 500 new jobs within ASD.

The remaining details of the CESAR Package will be detailed in Australia’s 2020 Cyber Security Strategy, which will build on the foundations established by the $230 million 2016 Cyber Security Strategy and the $156 million 2019 cyber security election commitment.

Australian minister for defense Senator Reynolds said that this massive investment would have a real impact on the cyber security of all Australians.

“The package will put our nation on the front foot in combating cyber threats and our investment in a cyber security workforce will help ensure we have the people we need to meet future cyber challenges,” Senator Reynolds said.

“This package is one part of our $15 billion investment in cyber and information warfare capabilities that will form part of Defence’s 2020 Force Structure Plan to address the rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape.”