Education embarks on $4m cyber probe

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has handed more than $4 million worth of contracts to local firms to probe its cyber defences this year, as part of a surge in government cyber work for private contractors.

It follows a critical report from the Auditor General into the department’s cyber defences, and its commitment to improve them.

North Security Digital, Partner Consulting Group, CyberCX and Ionize – each Australian owned and Canberra based – all received contracts, which are each worth $1.1 million and run for the current financial year.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) said the work was for an assessment of cyber defences and advice.

“The contracts are for the provision of specialist cyber security services including cyber security risk and vulnerability assessments, technical security advice and penetration testing services,” the spokesperson told InnovationAus.

A single approach to market established the group of four service providers, but their contract will operate independently to the others.

“This enables the department to source the most appropriate and available skills from one or more of the vendors to undertake the services required at the time it is needed,” the spokesperson said.

Four Canberra based cyber firms have each received more than $1 million to help DESE with its cyber defences

The work follows an Audit Office report earlier this year that found the DESE had not implemented basic mandatory cyber resilience measures. DESE agreed to improve its cyber security by monitored compliance during a set time frame, which was endorsed by the department’s executive board.

The contracts cap off a healthy two months for the four firms, which won several other cyber contracts and extensions of existing agreements with government entities.

In the last two months, CyberCX, which is headed by the former head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre Alastair MacGibbon, has won $3 million of new work and another $5.5 million from a Digital Transformation Agency contract extension.

North  Security Digital has won new and extended work from the government since June worth nearly $2.7 million

Ionize has won smaller contracts in the same period but many more of them, landing more than $4 million worth of new and extended work in the last two months.

Partner consulting group received contracts and extensions worth more than $1.5 million since June, including a long running contract from DESE being amended a fourth time and now worth nearly 10 times the original contract amount.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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