‘We Cannot Sleepwalk Into Our Cyber Future’: Australia is Getting a New Coordinator for Cyber Security

‘We Cannot Sleepwalk Into Our Cyber Future’: Australia is Getting a New Coordinator for Cyber Security

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced a new Coordinator for Cyber Security, one that will oversee Australia’s progress in giving “Australian businesses and families confidence, stability and security, in the face of rapidly evolving threats”.

The new cyber security coordinator will be supported by the National Office for Cyber Security within the Department of Home Affairs, and an advisory board that comprises former Telstra CEO Andy Penn, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld and Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre CEO Rachael Falk. Minister for Cyber Security Clare O’Neil will also be heavily involved, as she’ll be the one signing off on the new cyber security strategy that was also announced today as on its way.

All of these announcements were made this morning by Albanese while holding a “Cyber Security Roundtable”. The roundtable, per a statement from the PM, focused on the “whole-of-nation effort required to protect Australians and our economy, with the aim of making Australia the most cyber-secure nation by 2030”.

Albanese said that for too many years, Australia has been “off the pace” and said the new national cyber security strategy will be one that is practical, useful and adaptable.

“It’s critical to maintain confidence in your commercial dealings and also in your intellectual property, which is often the foundation of your wealth creation,” he said.

“It’s also vital to individuals. Individuals, quite rightly, feel violated when their details are online. It is no different from someone breaking into your house and stealing something from you.”

He of course was pointing to the data breaches experienced by Optus and Medibank. Both of those events have brought the words ‘data breach’ to the mainstream. Unsurprisingly, the nation has been calling for the government to do something in the months since.

Back in October, a few weeks after the Optus data breach came to light, O’Neil said Australia is “probably a decade behind in privacy protections”, ones that would have potentially helped prevent a breach the scale of Optus’.

Today, she continued that sentiment.

“Getting our cyber security settings right will take time, and Australians should be prepared for more cyber incidents in the coming years,” she said. “However, it is clear that Australians expect more from businesses holding their sensitive data, and Government has a central role to play to ensure everyone is pulling their weight.

“As a nation, we cannot sleepwalk into our cyber future.”

The cyber security strategy was discussed back in December, when, after throwing shade at the former government’s smart* decision to get rid of a cyber minister, O’Neil addressed the National Press Club and said Australia will “punch back at the hackers” as part of the plan to get on top of cyber space.

At the time, O’Neill said the new Cyber Security Strategy will “bring the whole nation into the fight to protect our citizens and our economy”, strengthen critical infrastructure and government networks,  build sovereign cybersecurity capabilities and strengthen Australia’s international engagement.

Today, she’s released a discussion paper, with submissions accepted until April 15.

The government had flagged plans to update the 2020 Cyber Security Strategy after the election, unsurprising, considering the two-year-old strategy was mostly hot air.

This article has been updated since it was first published.

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