Government wants community input on cybersecurity strategy

By Shannon Jenkins

September 9, 2019

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The public has until November to have their say on the development of a new national cybersecurity strategy. 

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton launched the consultation paper for the strategy on Friday. 

The paper poses 26 questions on various points, including what the public thinks about the “cyber threat environment”, what the government should do to deal with it, and who should be responsible for what.

“We want to explore with you how Australia can position itself to meet cyber threats, now and into the future,” the paper states. “In forming a view, we will need to consider whether responsibilities are appropriately assigned in keeping everyone safe. This will require a thoughtful discussion about how government, businesses and individuals can share responsibility for cyber security in the future to get the best outcome for everyone.”

Dutton said he will appoint a panel of cybersecurity experts to help develop and implement the strategy.

“Strong collaboration and partnerships are vital to ensure this strategy is well-positioned to tackle the cybersecurity challenges we face as a nation,” he said.

Such challenges include risks to electricity, water and transport services, as well as threats to “physical safety, economic security and the continuity of government and its services”, according to the paper. However, it noted the strategy alone won’t be a “magic bullet” to fix all the issues in the ever-changing digital environment. 

Read more: National cyber security strategy under-resourced

The government’s current cybersecurity strategy was launched in 2016 with a backing of $230 million. Since then — the paper notes — the government has opened the Australian Cyber Security Centre, formed Joint Cyber Security Centres, and created a 24/7 Global Watch to strengthen “cyber resilience”. 

Shadow Minister for Home Affairs Kristina Keneally and Shadow Assistant Minister for Cybersecurity Tim Watts have argued that much of the 2016 strategy has been abandoned, noting that since 2017, there have not been any implementation reports on the strategy or meetings of cyber security leaders. 

In a joint statement, the Labor ministers also condemned the decision to scrap the Computer Emergency Response Team Australia website and the failure to establish an online information sharing portal to address emerging cyber threats.

“Globally, Australia is ranked in the top five for the most number of data breaches by population,” they added.

However, Keneally and Watts welcomed the decision to develop a new strategy.

Consultation closes 1 November 2019.

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