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Australia to draft cybersecuity strategy paper

In a sign of the growing government acceptance of cyber attacks as genuine threats to national security, Australia will develop its first Cyber White Paper.

To date white papers, which are concerned with issues affecting long term Defence planning, have been issued in 2009 (PDF) and prior to that, 2000 (PDF).

According to Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland, the Cyber White Paper will cover a broad range of areas including consumer protection, cyber safety, cyber crime, cyber security and cyber defence.

“The Government has commissioned the White Paper to provide insights into how Australia’s electronic operating environment can continue to maximise the benefits of the digital economy, build Australia’s digital future and support Australia’s national security,” McClelland said in a statement.

“The Cyber White Paper will examine what we need to do to protect ourselves online, the role of government, industry and the public in protecting our interests, and Australia’s enduring priorities in the cyber environment.”

Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, said the cyber threat to Australia was real, evolving and a growing test to the country’s national security establishment.

“It comes from a wide range of sources, and from adversaries possessing a broad range of skills,” Smith said in a statement. “Cyber attacks are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and targeted. They are no longer confined to random acts of opportunism.”

Smith said the white paper would take account of the fact that cyberspace was a shared domain and that no single nation can address the security challenges alone.

It would also take account of the recent Australia-UK Ministerial (AUKMIN)) talks which resulted in a joint communiqué committing to the two nations working in “concrete and practical ways” to shape a more secure environment and advance common interests in the area of cyber security.

“Cyber intrusions are an increasing challenge for the security of systems and networks of national importance,” the communiqué issued in January reads. “Australia and the UK are already working closely together to confront the growing threats we face to our cyber security, and it is vital to our wider, shared security and defence interests that we do so.”

Earlier this year Defence also identified electronic warfare, high-end systems integration and software support as critical domestic industries for the future defence capabilities of the country.

Defence also signalled its intentions to provide all personnel with additional training on technology-related risk under an ICT Security Awareness Training project.

The white paper also follows calls for the creation of an Australian cyber security czar or ombudsman..

Follow Tim Lohman on Twitter: @tlohman

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU


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