Electoral Commission spins up cyber ops centre

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Electoral Commission spins up cyber ops centre

Looks to ex-cyber spooks to protect electoral systems.

With the date of next month’s federal ballot now set, the agency in charge of Australia’s electoral systems has switched on its new security operations centre to protect against external interference.

The short-term SOC capability was established late last month in preparation for Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling the election last week.

It will be used it to detect any compromises - or compromise attempts - made against the Australian Electoral Commission's systems in the lead up to, during and following the May 18 election.

The resilience of Australia's core electoral systems - the age of which remains an ongoing concern for the agency - is particularly acute in this year's election following Russia’s alleged cyber interference in the 2016 US election.

Monitoring services will be provided by Technical Security Services (TSS), which was established by Defence Signals Directorate (now Australian Signals Directorate) alumni Richard Byfield.

For up to the next ten weeks or until the results of the election are declared, the company will provide a real-time alerting system for significant cyber security events, as well as at least daily review of log files.

But the first test for the new capability will take place today, when around the clock eyes-on monitoring will occur for the close of rolls.

That same eyes-on monitoring will take place over a five-day window around the election next month.

In addition to the new SOC capability, the agency is working with federal government security agencies to ensure its IT systems are protected during the upcoming election.

A spokesperson told iTnews the AEC is working with the Australian Cyber Security Centre to maintain the security posture of its IT systems.

The agency is similarly supported by the Electoral Integrity Assurance Task Force – a taskforce dedicated to safeguarding Australian elections from cyber interference.

The taskforce, which is led by the Department of Home Affairs and portfolio agencies like Australia’s domestic spy agency ASIO and the Australian Federal Police, was established last July.

Earlier this month the government announced an undisclosed amount of funding in the federal budget to secure whole-of-government systems related to the election ahead of the poll.

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