Turnbull, Obama lift cyber alliance

Elaine McFadden

Australia has strengthened ties with the US on cyber security, another sign that analyst and vendor predictions citing cyber security as a big ticket item to watch in 2016, is on the money.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the new cyber security dialogue between the countries as part of his first official visit to the US last week. It will be jointly convened by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the US Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

The initiative will start with – and you can read more about the first steps here – improving response efforts via better mapping of cyber incident response structures and mechanisms, and enhancing online crime cooperation between the nations.

That cyber issues found itself on the top of the agenda on Mr Turnbull’s US trip is not surprising. The Prime Minister and President Obama want the same things from cyber safety and many hands make light work. And cyber is a logical and increasingly important part of the broader strategic relationship.

The upgrading of the cyber relationship is timely, given Mr Turnbull’s drive on security issues which was given prominence as part of the overall innovation message.

Cyber and its issues may not be as sexy as startups and science, but it is a central component of the overall digital economy.

The National Innovation and Science Agenda made $30million available to establish an industry-led Cyber Security Growth Centre between now and 2019-20. This initiative aims to make Australians and businesses be safer and more secure online.

And the Australian Government’s long-awaited Cyber Security Review – first announced by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and now six months past its original due date – is understood to be going through a rewrite as a result of Mr Turnbull taking over as PM.

It is unsurprising that the review was elevated in priority once a more tech-focused and digitally-aware PM got the keys to The Lodge. The US agreement is confirmation that cyber is a first order priority.

In another agreement that pre-dates Mr Turnbull’s leadership – announced on the Prime Minister and Cabinet website on the day he was challenging Mr Abbott last September – Australia has also entered a tighter cyber security relationship with India.

The Australia-India Cyber Policy dialogue was quietly created, with the most recent talks held last August in New Delhi. The next round is expected to be held in Canberra this year.

Speaking to InnovationAus.com Risk Advisory Partner at Deloitte, Tommy Viljoen, said that the US and Indian agreements are key to ensuring Australia becomes a leader in cyber security.

“If we, as a country, are going to be able to stand alongside other countries as leaders in this space then we need to be at the forefront of the sharing and collaboration [of the global cyber security initatives],” Mr Viljoen said.

“One of the benefits that cyber activists, hackers and perpetrators of cybercrime receive is us not sharing information, be that at government level or at a B2B level. It’s the ability for them to continue perpetrating these events across borders and organisations.

“If we share our information and strategies on how we are dealing with cybercrime however, we are far more likely to reduce the impact and put in place effective strategies a lot sooner that last longer,” he added.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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