Cybersecurity Elevated to Cabinet Level

Cybersecurity Elevated to Cabinet Level
Australia's Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton during a press conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, on March 5, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
Daniel Y. Teng

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will create a cybersecurity role in the Home Affairs Department next month in response to increased cyber threats posed to the country’s institutions and critical infrastructure.

The new role would oversee implementation of the 10-year, 2020 Cyber Security strategy, which is currently operating under the Home Affairs Department, according to The Australian.

The Department said that while there has not been a major “catastrophic” attack on critical infrastructure, there have been multiple attacks in the last two years against the Federal Parliamentary Network, airports, and universities.

“Malicious actors have taken advantage of the pressures COVID-19 has put on the health sector by launching cyber attacks on health organisations and medical research facilities,” Home Affairs said in a statement to The Epoch Times.

“Key supply chain businesses transporting groceries and medical supplies have also been targeted,” it continued.

Matt Warren, professor of cybersecurity at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, said the elevation of cybersecurity to federal cabinet was welcomed.

“Cybersecurity protection is key to protecting our government and corporate systems as well as individual citizens and their data,” he told The Epoch Times.

“State actors use cyberattacks as a method of power projection and influencing what happens in the physical world,” he said.

“It reinforces the need for reviewing cybersecurity for critical infrastructure and systems of national importance, which the Department of Home Affairs is doing,” he added.

Australia’s 2020 Cyber Security Strategy is underpinned by a $1.67 billion investment from the federal government.

The increased spending is intended to fortify critical infrastructure, boost police efforts to disrupt criminal activity on the dark web and strengthen community awareness.

Companies and universities will also need to ensure their cybersecurity networks are upgraded.

Cyberattacks are costing the economy $29 billion per year, according to the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

In June, the prime minister also warned that public and private organisations were under attack from a “sophisticated state-based cyber actor.”

Morrison would not reveal which state was responsible. However, experts believe the most likely suspect to be the Chinese communist regime.

New South Wales (NSW) authorities just last week revealed a data breach at Service NSW would cost the state $7 million. Over 500,000 documents relating to 186,000 individuals were affected in the breach.

Daniel Y. Teng is based in Brisbane, Australia. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at [email protected].
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