Cyber is key to Defence work: Pyne

James Riley
Editorial Director

The Australian government has opened the door to its fifth Joint Cyber Security Centre (JCSC) in Adelaide to signal its ongoing commitment to provide platforms for public-private cyber intelligence sharing.

Like the other JCSCs in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth, the Adelaide centre will serve as a hub where businesses, academia and government agencies can share intelligence, including information on actionable cyber threats, and to develop cyber security counter measures.

During the opening of the Adelaide JCSC on Friday, Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said how cyber security is “really, really critical and things like the opening of this centre…is vitally important if we are going to realise our ambitions of growing a Defence Industry into a significant part of our manufacturing base.

“We’re well on the track to doing so, but it could be retarded if we don’t invest in cyber security.”

Mr Pyne also encouraged the private sector to be more active in the cyber security space.

“South Australian business will use the opportunity the centre gives them to build up their cyber capabilities. We are, as you know, trying to get as much of the largest build-up of our military capability in our peacetime history being done here in Australia,” he said.

“But one of the things that’s going to stop that is if the government can’t contract with Australian businesses because they haven’t got enough cyber protections to convince us that they can win the contract.

“For Australian business, it’s about actually being competitive in tender processes or smart buyer processes, and working with primes and government to make sure they can win those contracts.

“If they don’t invest in their cyber, they won’t win. It’s as simple as that. It’s very much about all of us needing to understand our place in this part of the jigsaw puzzle and if we all get that right and work together, we can all do well.”

The Adelaide JCSC will be the first centre to be collocated with AustCyber – formerly known named the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network.

“It’s an important one because it’s bringing the start-up, scale-up community together with those of us who practice cyber security whether it’s in industry or government or academia,” said Alistair MacGibbon, head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

However, Greg Austin, a professor at the Australian Centre for Cyber Security at University of New South Wales Canberra, said he is not convinced this latest announcement is anything more but another one of the government’s show pony.

Mr Austin told that while the centre is evidence of the government’s good intentions, no solid outcomes have come from the other JCSCs so far.

“In principle [the centres] are a good idea but they haven’t yet lived up to their promise of being a hub where business, government and academics meet with any intensity,” he said.

“The Sydney one is working very well. As people describe it to me, it’s more of a good meeting place, rather than a place where good things happen to stimulate big steps towards cyber security practice. It’s a good thing in principle.”

Mr Austin is also concerned about the rate the government is responding to cyber threats.

“Alastair MacGibbon recently said the most existential threat was cyber catastrophe. Yet the government is only still developing the response mechanisms for what Dan Tehan called at the time in 2016 a cyber storm. But the government has really done little in the public domain since that statement,” he said.

“Now we have Alastair MacGibbon saying cyber catastrophe is something we have to think about. There’s almost nothing in the public domain about what a cyber storm is, or what a cyber catastrophe is, and there’s certainly no elaboration of how this state-based centres might play a role in that.”

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