Australia’s government announced Tuesday (30 June) that it would be spending A$1.35 billion over the next 10 years in what it called its “largest ever investment in cyber security to enhance its capabilities and assistance provided to Australians through the Australian Signals Directorate and the Australian Cyber Security Centre. The investment, known as the Cyber Enhanced Situational Awareness and Response (CESAR) package, will mean that Australia can identify more cyber threats, disrupt more foreign cybercriminals, build more partnerships with industry and government and protect more Australians.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said malicious cyber activity against Australia is increasing in frequency, scale and sophistication. “The federal government’s top priority is protecting our nation’s economy, national security and sovereignty. Malicious cyber activity undermines that. My government’s record investment in our nation’s cyber security will help ensure we have the tools and capabilities we need to fight back and keep Australians safe,” the prime minister said.

The CESAR package has been designed to boost protection and cyber resilience for all Australians, from individuals and small businesses through to the providers of critical services, including through:

  • New capabilities to disrupt and defeat malicious cyber activity, providing greater capacity to take the fight to cybercriminals offshore and to neutralise and block emerging cyber threats to Australia, including:
  • Over A$31 million to enhance the ability of ASD to disrupt cybercrime offshore, taking the fight to foreign criminals that seek to target Australians, and providing assistance to federal, state and territory law enforcement agencies.
  • Over A$35 million to deliver a new cyber threat-sharing platform, enabling industry and government to share intelligence about malicious cyber activity, and block emerging threats in near real-time.
  • Over A$12 million towards new strategic mitigations and active disruption options, enabling ASD and Australia’s major telecommunications providers to prevent malicious cyber activity from ever reaching millions of Australians across the country by blocking known malicious websites and computer viruses at speed.

Enhancing understanding of malicious cyber activity so that emerging cyber threats can be more rapidly identified and responded to, including:

  • Over A$118 million for ASD to expand its data science and intelligence capabilities, ensuring Australia remains at the forefront of the technological advancements in cyber security, including the identification of emerging cyber threats to Australia.
  • Over A$62 million to deliver a national situational awareness capability to better enable ASD to understand and respond to cyber threats on a national scale. This includes informing vulnerable sectors of the economy about threats most likely to impact them, coupled with tailored advice and assistance about how to mitigate cyber threats.
  • Over A$20 million to establish cutting-edge research laboratories to better understand threats to emerging technology, ensuring that ASD continues to provide timely and authoritative advice about the most secure approaches for organisations to adopt new technology.

To deliver these capabilities and initiatives, the package also includes a A$470 million investment to expand the country’s cyber security workforce, with the creation of over 500 new jobs within ASD.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds. (PHOTO: Government File Photo)

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said that this massive investment would have a real impact on the cyber security of all Australians. “The package will put our nation on the front foot in combatting cyber threats and our investment in a cyber security workforce will help ensure we have the people we need to meet future cyber challenges. For example, this package will enable ASD and Australia’s major telecommunications providers to prevent malicious cyber activity from reaching millions of Australians by blocking known malicious websites and computer viruses at speed. This package is one part of our $15 billion investment in cyber and information warfare capabilities that will form part of Defence’s 2020 Force Structure Plan to address the rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape.”

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the Australian Federal Police and other Home Affairs agencies are confronting increasingly brazen cyber criminals and other online threats. “This investment will significantly strengthen our agencies’ ability to tackle these threats,” Dutton said.

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