Cyber bosses on what it means for public agencies to be resilient

By Melissa Coade

June 2, 2022

Ian Levy
Ian Levy heads the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre. (Supplied)

Tech leaders have welcomed the appointment of a new federal minister for cybersecurity, as the Australian Information Security Association (AISA) convened in Canberra for a three-day conference on the national priority. 

Dr Ian Levy has addressed the challenge of developing strategic cyber resilience, underscoring the need for data collection and a more scientific approach to monitoring it as a national capability. 

On Wednesday, the boss of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) told a group of public sector leaders in Canberra that ‘increasing resilience’ for critical infrastructure or the Internet was easier said than done, as was refining an appropriate model to address the complex risk of an increasingly digitised world. 

“If you increase something, you have to be able to measure it, to know that it has increased. When you define ‘resilience’ [you need to ask]: ‘resilience from what?’,” Levy said.

“Is it resilience from somebody using a JCB to cut a cable? Is it somebody driving a truck into a metro node? Or is it resilience from the Russians getting pissed off with us because of Ukraine, and turning their winged, ninja cyber monkeys on our networks? 

“It’s all of the above. But the way you manage those is completely different,” he said.  

Levy has identified five ‘grand challenges’ for NCSC research teams to consider and is determined to leverage science and datasets to better measure and understand what needs to be targeted to strengthen national cyber resilience.

“I want it to be driven by data about where the UK is genuinely vulnerable. There is still not enough science. We need genuinely new foundational science to make cybersecurity into something that we can all be proud of,” Levy said.

“We need data to help build analysis that tells us things, really high-quality information that we can use to secure the future. It’s for all of us to do.”

In a statement, AISA board chair Damien Manuel welcomed the prime minister’s announcement that there would be a cabinet ministry position dedicated to cybersecurity.

Victorian Labor MP Claire O’Neil was sworn in as the home affairs and cyber security minister on Wednesday morning. 

“Practically everything in the world today is heavily reliant on technology and the Internet, which is why the importance of cybersecurity has grown so rapidly, aligned with a growing number of cyberattacks on business, government and infrastructure,” Manuel said. 

“In the most recent federal budget we saw a number of positive measures to help address this pressing issue, and we hope the new minister will expand on these commitments to further grow the nation’s investment in cyber security capability.”

Manuel, who is also Deakin University’s Cyber Research & Solution Centre director, said the threat of a cyberattack was relevant to defence as well as Australian business, communities and the economy. Across the small businesses, health and education sectors, he said, AISA believed greater investment in cyber resilience was needed. 

More government work was also required to promote open data regulations and greater transparency in Australia, Manuel added. This would help to deliver data for social benefits and to better inform government policy decisions.

“Solving the cybersecurity challenges requires working together across governments, industry and the community,” Manuel said.

“We are also keen to see greater activity in the area of privacy and the protection of our digital identities as we leverage data analytics and digital systems to reduce consumer friction points, in the move to reduce life admin and focus on living.”


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