A re-elected Coalition government has unveiled a $156 million package to bolster Australia’s cyber security defences and improve the nation’s ability to quickly respond to online attacks.
The Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the funding would keep Australians safe, while protecting businesses and the economy.
“As the risk of cyber-attack increases, we need to ensure Australians are protected and our defence forces and capabilities continue to get the backing they need,” he said.
“We will continue to take a proactive approach against cyber criminals at home and overseas, including scammers, fraudsters and those involved in child exploitation.”
The cyber security package includes $50 million to create a Cyber Security National Workforce Growth program, a big investment in skills creation,
Mr Morrison said this program would bring Defence, Home Affairs, industry and academia under the leadership of the National Cyber Security Adviser to advise the government on a program to grow the cybersecurity workforce.
Some of the expected initiatives includes scholarships for postgraduate, undergraduate and TAFE students studying cyber security, with 50 per cent of scholarships for women; and development of specialist cybersecurity-related courses to directly meet the needs of Defence, government, and industry.
There also plans to introduce work experience placements and government-industry exchanges to develop practical skills of the cybersecurity workforce.
Another $40 million would be used to establish a Countering Foreign Cyber Criminals capability within the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) to “combat cybercrime gangs”, Mr Morrison said.
Specifically, this will help the ADF and Defence grow its military cyber warfare teams, with 230 additional military cyber operations specialists over the next four years. A hundred new gap-year positions each will also be created focused on cyber and information warfare.
The government promised to allocate $26 million for the ACSC, which would be used to expand its 24/7 cyber hotline and introduce a dedicated helpdesk for small and medium businesses, older Australians and families to report cybersecurity incidents.
This cash injection from the Morrison government is far from the Opposition’s position on cybersecurity. There has been little word from Opposition leader Bill Shorten about what cybersecurity plans the ALP has in place since Gai Brodtmann, exiting-Shadow Minister for Cyber Security, announced last August she will be resigning from politics.
The Morrison government announcement comes as representatives of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance gathered and spoke publicly together for the first time at a UK government-backed conference in Scotland last week.
According to the CYBERUK conference agenda, representatives from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States had an open discussion to “address global collaboration on threat sharing, joint operations and beyond, bringing a closer international approach, to the mutual benefit of all.”