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Your system might be at risk-Australia's cyber security

By Andrew Davies

To mark Cyber Security Week, ASPI takes a look at the difficult public policy issues raised by the increased dependence on computer networks for almost every aspect of our lives and the growing amount of hostile activity on those networks. Threats come from a wide range of sources, the most serious of which are criminal and state-sponsored entities. Cyber crime probably costs Australia billions of dollars a year and there are national security implications of activity targeting government and critical infrastructure networks.

A ‘whole of community’ approach is the appropriate response. Governments are not able—and can’t be expected—to solve all of the problems in cyber space. But the expertise the federal government has accrued from its own cyber operations in the defence and national security part of the spectrum makes it an important player with much to add to the private sector effort.

And credit where it’s due—from a ‘catch-up’ position, the Australian Government has adopted an approach with the right elements and which involves a range of departments and agencies across the spectrum. The outstanding issues are:

  • whether the governance mechanisms in place will be sufficient as the problem evolves (and likely grows) 
  • whether the level of resources brought to bear are proportional to the threat—which would require data on costs and benefits to assess accurately.