Defence flags need to harden networks

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Whitepaper released.

The Department of Defence is looking to substantially strengthen its network and system management capabilities to combat the rising threat posed by cyber warfare.

The 2013 Defence white paper (pdf), launched today by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, outlines investments in networks, data capture, intrusion detection and prevention and innovation, alongside continuing investment in ICT shared services.

Defence said cybersecurity "continues to be a serious and pressing national security challenge" during both war and peace time. 

"The potential impact of malicious cyber activity has grown with Defence's increasing reliance on
networked operations," the department stated.

"Reducing Defence's vulnerability to cyber attacks or intrusions in a crisis or conflict will remain a high priority."

It indicated there was a "significant" body of work to be done to ensure the security and resilience of defence systems.

"Network and system management, along with personnel and physical security need to be strengthened as part of our response," it said.

The department has signed a $1.1 billion contract with Telstra that will focus heavily on strengthening networks and security.

Despite the potentially damaging affect of using technologies to increase "the flows of information", Defence also wanted to derive substantial benefits from an increasingly networked force.

Data capture was one area flagged for improvement. Defence said it expected the next generation of intelligence systems to "require far more ... data than current ... platforms, not only in quantity but also in terms of the breadth and fidelity of information".

The department flagged continued investment in ICT systems to support "increasing requirements for ... high information volumes and processing [and] information sharing".

"Most advanced capabilities have a critical dependency on information, in areas such as electromagnetic spectrum, communications, data networking and precision navigation," it said.

The department also foreshadowed increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in combat and border control operations.

Innovation progress

Defence also unveiled several initiatives to take advantage of commercial and consumer technology for military use.

"In recent years, emerging technologies have been increasingly driven by commercial and consumer applications," the department said.

"Defence must capture and integrate these developments into its systems to develop new mechanisms through which it can promote and encourage the exploitation and transition of new technologies."

The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) will spearhead some of that effort "through a concerted program of strategic alliances, research agreements, research programs and collaborative arrangements ... with academia and industry".

Defence is also keen to make sure more of the innovative ideas it generates internally progress "from conception through to capability" sooner.

"The DSTO, with CDG [Capability Development Group] and the DMO [Defence Materiel Organisation], will develop an integrated innovation program seeking to capture new ideas and realise them as a capability," Defence indicated.

"This program will have a senior steering group managing and coordinating these initiatives across Defence."

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