Australia To Spend Another A$1billion On Cyber Security

Over the next decade Australia will spend A$1.35 billion (US$926.1 million) on its cyber security defence, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said recently while the Australian capital Canberra has suffered a wave of serious cyber attacks.  The Australian Prime Minister has  said a “sophisticated state-based actor” has been cyber-attacking many areas of government, essential services and aspects of the critical infrastructure.

Although they have not laid blame for the attacks, a number of expert sources have told our correspondent that they think China is behind the attacks.

“The federal government’s top priority is protecting our nation’s economy, national security and sovereignty. Malicious cyber activity undermines that,” Morrison said in a statement.

The expenditure includes A$470 million for an extra 500 security experts in the Australian Signals Directorate, which is the country’s cyber intelligence agency. This investment is part of a A$15 billion in cyber warfare capabilities, Australia’s Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said, a plan that was accelerated after an electronic attack on Australia’s parliament in 2019.

Australian is a part of the Five Eyes intelligence network, along with Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States but its cybersecurity funding pales compared to cyber-powers such as the US, China or Russia. The funding is intended to ensure Australia has the tools and capabilities to fight back and keep itself safe. 

Despite being major trade partners, Australia has not help back in criticising China, recently calling for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. It has also spoken out over what it describes as China's economic "coercion", covert influence campaigns and the use of technology companies like Huawei as a tool of intelligence-gathering and geopolitical leverage. In response, China has warned its students and tourists against going to Australia, applied trade sanctions on Australian goods and sentenced an Australian citizen to death for drug trafficking.

Cyber security startups have called on the Australian government to use the funds to help Australian businesses develop herd immunity from cyber-attacks.

"Using the COVID-19 analogy, Australia needs herd immunity to guard against the most determined attackers," Sam Crowther, the founder of cyber security startup Kasada, said. 

As part of the investment plan, A$12 million would be spent on "active disruption" options to protect Australian users to enable  Australia's major telecommunications providers to prevent malicious cyber activity from reaching millions of Australians by blocking known malicious websites and computer viruses. The Government said further details would be revealed when it released its 2020 Cyber Security Strategy.

Reuters:       WIO News:     Sydney Morning Herald:      ABC

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