The Liberals have been in Government for seven years and are now trying to play catch-up on cyber security during a global pandemic and Australia’s first recession in three decades.
Australia’s cyber security requires leadership but the first decision Scott Morrison made upon becoming Prime Minister was to abolish the dedicated ministerial role for cyber security – a disastrous decision that has left cyber security policy politically orphaned.
Cyber security is about our national security but is also about the security of the livelihoods of Australians and Australian businesses.
Australia has the 5th largest number of data breaches by population and our global standing in cyber security has fallen from 3rd in 2014 to 11th in 2018 under the Liberals.
A four-week digital interruption to Australia’s economy, such as a widespread cyber-attack, would cost the Australian economy up to $30 billion and over 163,000 jobs.
The Morrison Government needs to get their own house in order too – 70 per cent of Commonwealth agencies have failed to implement basic cyber security measures according to the Auditor-General.
Late last year, the former head of ASIO, David Irvine, warned that:
“We need... to have much more effort both by the government and the private sector and individuals into developing what I’ll call national cyber resilience to a far greater level than we have now”.
Just as public health experts recognise the collective benefits of improving the overall health of a population, so too should cyber security experts recognise the collective benefits of lifting the baseline cyber security capability throughout a nation.
On 1 May, Labor released a new Policy Discussion Paper, “National Cyber Resilience: Is Australia Prepared for a Computer Covid-19?” that the Government should be considering now to ensure that Australia is ready for cyber incidents in the future.
Labor’s discussion paper examines Australia’s current vulnerabilities and examines new ideas that could lift the baseline of Australia’s cyber security including:
- An Active Cyber Defence program modelled on that deployed by the United Kingdom National Cyber Security Centre — a framework of automated, scalable interventions to tackle the most common cyber threats and make the Australian internet safer for everyone to use.
- A Cyber Civilian Corps – an organization that engages volunteers in public interest cyber security tasks in their own community like education and outreach, testing and assessment as well as providing additional surge capacity in moments of crisis.
You can read Labor's discussion paper here.