Australian response to cyber threats must evolve, says Pezzullo

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday January 29, 2020

Michael Pezzullo AAP/Lucas Koch

Cyber security experts visited capital cities across Australia to brainstorm ways of better protecting the country from cyber threats.

Sixty experts attended the Cyber 2020 Forum at Perth’s Edith Cowan University to help develop a new national cyber strategy.

The forum focused on themes including emerging cyber threats, vulnerabilities, and ways to build cyber skills in the economy.

Department of Home Affairs secretary Michael Pezzullo warned of the increased digital threats to Australia.

“[The threats] will become more acute as our society and economy become increasingly connected. As the threat evolves, so too must our response,” he told the forum.

He said the forum would “set the tone” for meaningful discussions on how to equip Australia to overcome challenges while harnessing the benefits of the online environment.

CEO of the university’s Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre, Rachael Falk, said close collaboration between industry, government and the research sector was needed to ensure the government can meet the challenges of the digital age.

“It is essential that we take this opportunity to have robust debate with the best and brightest around how best to predict, protect and detect threats against individuals, businesses and critical infrastructure,” she said.

Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton launched the consultation paper for the strategy in September. Follow up public consultations on the strategy were held in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane this week.

In November, Dutton appointed an industry advisory panel to provide strategic advice on the development of the strategy, to be chaired by Telstra boss Andrew Penn. Vocus Group chair Robert Mansfield, Tesla board chair Robyn Denholm, Northrop Grumman Australia chief executive Chris Deeble, and NBN Co chief security officer Darren Kane were named panel members.


Read more: Data61 releases dataset that could predict cyber attacks


In its submission to the strategy consultation paper, the CSIRO said the cyber security threat landscape needs to be assessed on a sector by sector basis, as “cyber security priorities within each sector are different”.

It listed 13 cyber threats the government should focus on, including database reconstruction attacks through publicly released but poorly “anonymised” datasets, information warfare using fake or compromised online identity, fake news and deep-fakes, and quantum supremacy (the ability of quantum computers to solve problems that classical computers practically cannot).

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