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Keeping Australia Cyber-Safe and Open for Business

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By Jennifer Mulveny, Director for Global Public Policy, Australia and New Zealand

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently released the Government’s Cyber Security Strategy, which reveals an attractive trifecta of what Intel considers to be smart security policy: relying on government-industry partnerships to keep Australia safe; enhancing cyber skills while creating jobs; and working with other governments to keep the Internet safe, open and free. These are not mutually exclusive goals. In fact, the Prime Minister spoke passionately about jointly protecting and advancing Australians’ interests online—all in the same breath.

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, said too that the Opposition was happy to support efforts to ensure Australia has the right cyber-security policy, noting that "when it comes to national security, Labor and Liberal are in this together."

It's not just both sides of politics who are in this together - but government and the private sector as well.

Three key elements of the Strategy are worth highlighting:

First, Recognizing that neither the private sector nor the public sector can fully protect any country from cyber-attacks, the Strategy maintains the Government's position that cyber-security is a joint responsibility of both business and government. Intel promotes this philosophy in all of our engagements with governments throughout the world as countries seek to create new or update existing security regimes. Turnbull correctly stated that the Internet “must be governed by those who use it—not dominated by governments…The private sector and government sector both have vital roles to play.”

Small and large businesses alike need to be equipped to protect their data assets. In fact, small businesses are among the most vulnerable. The government can lead by providing the right framework, tools and support. In the United States, President Obama worked with industry, including Intel, to lay the groundwork for a Cybersecurity Framework (CSF), which is applicable for all sized organizations. Intel and many others are using the CSF internally to enhance risk management processes, improve existing practices and align resources accordingly. Intel has shared our positive findings with the U.S. Government and industry in a US Case Study for the Cyber Security Framework.

Secondly, the Government’s commitment to a “cyber smart nation” is both visionary and essential for success. The announcement of new Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence in universities to address the shortage of cyber security professionals is absolutely critical to help create the skills needed for Australia to not only catch up-- but stay ahead--of cyber-attacks today and in the future.

The Strategy’s 33 separate initiatives are supported by funding of over AU$230 million and create 100 new jobs.

That funding is further detailed in the Budget released earlier this month. It includes AU$38.8 million to relocate the Australian Cyber Security Centre to a new location so it can work more closely with industry; $47.3 million to establish Joint Cyber Threat Centres and an online threat sharing portal; and AU$3.5m for up to six academic centres of cyber-security excellence.

It's a solid start, with room to grow.

Finally, the Prime Minister’s unwavering commitment to an open Internet as part of, and in tandem with, this cyber initiative strikes a critical balance of protecting the country while also letting its citizens thrive. He said, “There is no infrastructure more important to our future prosperity than an open, free and secure Internet.” Similar to giving a rock climber a harness for safety to keep them from falling, it does not limit how high he or she can climb. Australia is one of the most innovative countries in the world and cannot afford to be held back by a “lock it down” approach to cyberspace.

The Prime Minister’s appointment of a Cyber Ambassador to promote an open and free Internet throughout the world demonstrates Australia’s acknowledgement that the global cyber-security challenge cannot and should not be approached country-by-country. Keeping the Internet open and safe for all citizens of the world is a value Intel holds dear, and the more countries cooperate across borders, the better chance it has of becoming a reality so that both rich and poor countries can prosper for generations to come.

Last year, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) noted that while resources and vigilance against cyber-attacks is on the rise, the fact remains that Australia simply cannot keep up with the number, sophistication and sheer persistence of these adversaries. We opined in a policy blog following the release of that threat report that it is important for countries and companies to respond holistically—not simply turn inward and devote more share of budgets or people to cyber defences. We spoke of “paying down the cyber debt” together for future generations. Think ahead. The Australian Government is taking a bold step in that very direction.