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Cyber Security Centre planned to target growing threat

Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivers a speech outlining Australia’s new National Security Strategy. AAP

“The internet must remain open but also secure,” Prime Minister Julia Gillard said today, flagging plans for the development of a new Cyber Security Centre by the end of the year.

Ms Gillard said with the roll out of the National Broadband Network, the government was deploying a more sophisticated focus on cyber security. The number of cyber incidents has increased by 42% over the past two years, according to government data.

“We must continue to work closely with industry and international partners to develop a set of global norms for online behaviour,” Ms Gillard said.

“Australia is an attractive target for a range of malicious cyber actors, from politically-motivated hackers and criminal networks to nation states.”

The new Cyber Security Centre will bring together cyber security experts from the Attorney-General’s Department, Defence, ASIO, the Australian Federal Police, and the Australian Crime Commission in one location.

“In pursuit of partnerships, my message to our national security community is: if you see a silo, dig it up,” Ms Gillard said.

Alastair MacGibbon, chair of the Centre for Internet Safety at the University of Canberra, welcomed the announcement, arguing it was important to remove some of the barriers that existed between different arms of government that were really there for the same purpose.

“If you can at least be in the same building and told you have the same objectives that’s a good start in a place like Canberra,” Mr MacGibbon said.

He added that it was critical for the National Security Strategy to go beyond intelligence and defence, by focusing on civilians and engaging industry “who hold so much of the data that needs to be protected”.

However more money is required to sufficiently address the cyber security threat, said Craig Wright, adjunct lecturer in computer science at Charles Sturt University.

“It’s a great idea, but whether it works depends on how they’re going to fund it,” Dr Wright said.

The Government has already committed $1.46 billion to 2020 to “strengthen our cyber capabilities”, with more detail expected to come on the Cyber Security Centre in another announcement planned for tomorrow.

Dr Wright cited the example of the critical network vulnerability assessment scheme that he said did not consider the whole life cycle of cyber security.

“We put a lot of money into telling people what they were doing wrong, but not a lot on fixing it.”

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