Defence studies cyber industry capabilities to plug market gaps


The Department of Defence has acknowledged that the depth of cyber security expertise on existing federal government panels is lacking in a call for capabilities to support its information warfare division.

Defence began scanning the market for “cyber industry capability” this week to support the information warfare capabilities of its Joint Cyber Directorate (JCD) within the Information Warfare Division of the Joint Capabilities Group.

Information warfare – and cyberspace, more broadly – is regarded as the “fifth domain” of warfare, alongside air, land, sea and space.

Panels failing to “articulate the full suite of skills and capabilities” needed

In a military context, it can range from the use of disinformation to deceive adversaries to the “cyberattacks on critical military networks, digital weapons systems and national infrastructure”.

Defence said that while it regularly procures products and services from the cyber security industry to support the “digital component” information warfare, it had identified gaps in existing panels.

According to the request for information, none of the government’s many panels “articulate the full suite of skills and capabilities” needed, with some recognised cyber industry entities altogether absent.

“During 2021, the JCD determined the need for a centralised repository of information about Australian sovereign and related international cyber industry capabilities,” it said.

In creating a centralised repository, Defence wants to keep better “abreast of cyber industry capability” and introduce “a more competitive approach to its cyber-related procurements”.

But the department stressed that it was not seeking to “replicate or replace all of the current cyber services provided by industry, nor does it have the workforce to warrant a duplication of effort”.

The repository, which it hopes to update every two years, is expected to “support a wide range of learning and development activities” and streamline procurement processes.

With the arrival of the Defence Cyber College, an information warfare facility at HMAS Harman in Canberra in mid-2023, Defence anticipates its need for industry-backed cyberspace workforce training will only grow.

Several “cyber ranges and other virtual cyber training system solutions” are being delivered under Defence’s $1.4 billion defensive cyberspace operations project, known as Joint Project 9131-1.

Defence also plans to use the exercise to support the Defence cyberworthiness system, which is used to evaluate and manage cyber domain risks to ensure “continuous improvement”.

Cyber industry entities have been asked to provide the department with information on their current and planned capabilities over the next two to five years.

“This information will enable Defence to achieve a relatively stable and strategic level of understanding of cyber industry’s current and future capability,” Defence said.

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