Big blue builds new national cybersecurity centre in Canberra


IBM is establishing a National Cyber Security Centre in Canberra (NCSC) to foster greater collaboration with government and business.

The centre is to be led by former Australian Federal Police assistant Commissioner Kevin Zuccato, who will oversee a team of cybersecurity specialists. Zuccato led the Australian High Tech Crime Centre for five years. The investment by IBM follows the release of the new national Cyber Security Strategy, which calls for much closer collaboration between government, cyber tech firms and corporates with large cyber capability such as the telcos and banks.

New IBM cyber leader Kevin Zuccato
New IBM cyber leader Kevin Zuccato

Traditionally there has been a world-wide reluctance to share data and intelligence among vendors and gateway providers. Till now, cybersecurity within government had been dominated by the military community.

The new cybersecurity strategy calls for a much more collaborative model, with the Australian Cyber Security Centre to be taken out of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation headquarters and relocated to a facility that allows it to grow, and enables government and the private sector to work more effectively together.

The government’s new strategy recognises the importance of partnerships involving public officials, the private sector and community to encourage the information sharing and best-practice. IBM have broken with the global vendor community and have established a global threat-sharing platform, which provides open access to real-time threat intelligence.

The platform is used by over 2,000 organisations globally and for the first time opens up real-time data on threats to the broader government and enterprise world, so others can react. IBM says the NCSC will connect to IBM’s global network of over a dozen security operations centres, which manage 20 billion events per day for nearly 4000 clients.

IBM has a cyber team of some 7,000 security professionals and a strategic focus on building much stronger analytics using cognitive technologies to gain better insight and faster response times. Outside key sectors such as communications, finance and defence, Australia has relatively weak cyber capability and the government wants to aggressively grow its in-house cyber capability, using its new agency within CSIRO, Data61.

Another former AFP executive, Alastair MacGibbon, has been appointed Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security. His job is to build effective partnerships between Australian governments, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, the research community and international partners. His former job as Children’s e-safety Commissioner is being advertised and closes next week.

IBM’s announcement coincides with the visit of its first female CEO, Ginni Rometty, and is just one example of the private sector activity that has been stimulated by the release of the new federal cybersecurity policy, including the establishment of a similar centre by Macquarie University and Optus.

Many of the Federal government’s cyber issues are due to long term underspend on modern ICT infrastructure. Federal agencies typically spend around 2-3% of their ICT budgets on security. In best-practice exemplar countries such as Singapore and Israel, agencies are spending 10% or more on keeping information safe.

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