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Australian government launches a new information security strategy

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April 21, 2016

We just learned today that the Australian government has launched a new information security strategy under which $230 million Australian dollars will be spent until 2020 to improve critical infrastructure defences through private and public sector information sharing, innovation security centres, and by bankrolling support for about 5,000 various security tests for businesses.

Speaking at the Cyber Security Strategy launch in Sydney today, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull outlined the investments in new information sharing hubs, university skills, and ambassadors to help bolster engagement with the private sector and regional allies.

He also acknowledged the long-suspected, never-acknowledged offensive hacking capability within the Australian Signals Directorate.

Turnbull said Australia only conducts such attacks for defense and deterrence purposes, sometimes directed against cybercriminals, and did not acknowledge Australian efforts to hack for intelligence purposes on its own behalf or to assist fellow members of the Five Eyes security alliance.

The Strategy will see some $39 million head to the Australian Cyber Security Centre to help access with the private sector and a further $47 million dedicated to threat-sharing centres.

Some $30 million will be tipped into an industry-led Cyber Security Growth Centre headed by the CSIRO's Data61 chief executive Adrian Turner and NICTA board member Doug Elix, while universities will be provided with security centres of excellence to provide students with relevant work-related skills.

That growth centre is designed to combat what Mr Turnbull says is a lack of investment in the innovative Australian security industry.

To be sure, cyber security innovation centres will be spread throughout Australian capital cities in various nodes. The NSW node will be located in the Australian Technology Park in Sydney while Victoria's will be housed in the existing Oceania security centre in Melbourne.

The Government will also bankroll security testing for some 5,000 small to medium enterprises, and provide ASX-100 companies governance health checks which will be eventually offered up to the broader industry.

Details about the format or breadth of the security tests were not forthcoming at this time. The existing Australian Cyber Security Centre will be managed by the Australian Security and Intelligence Agency (ASIO) facility in Canberra and relocated to improve private sector engagement.

Turnbull added that information security is an afterthought in technology design, making information sharing and collaboration critical for the country.

"The role of security is as important today as it has been in the past," Mr Turnbull told reporters.

"Within very specific circumstances, the Government will work with the private sector within agreed legal frameworks and oversight to fight serious online crime and extremism," he asserted.

Source: The Australian Government.

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