Govt bankrolls IT security upgrades ahead of election

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Govt bankrolls IT security upgrades ahead of election

Budget 2019: Poll security in the spotlight.

The federal government will spend an undisclosed wad of cash to address persistent cyber security concerns against some of the nation's most critical systems ahead of the 2019 election.

Budget documents also reveal the creation of new teams within the Australian Cyber Security Centre to mitigate cyber threats that agencies may face.

The new funding aims to secure whole-of-government systems relating to the poll, which is slated for May.

It comes in the wake of a security breach against Parliament House's computing network in February by a suspected state-based actor.

The new money - the amount of which the government has kept confidential for “national security reasons” - will also be used to “mitigate potential cyber threats through enhanced monitoring and response capabilities”.

These capabilities will take the form of "cyber sprint teams" within the Australian Cyber Security Centre, as well as the creation of a “cyber security response fund”.

Electoral Commission to scope IT upgrade

The government has also handed $10.8 million to the Australian Electoral Commission to “scope the deployment of new polling place technology and upgrades to [its] ageing core ICT infrastructure”.

The majority of the funding, which has been brought forward from 2021-22 and will be provided over the next two years, will flow towards IT that “improve[s] services to voters at elections and reduce reliance on paper-based electoral rolls”.

However $2.4 million will be used to plan the agency's once-in-a-generation overhaul to its ageing electoral systems following the 2019 election.

The seven-year modernisation project was revealed last October and spans AEC’s electoral roll, counting and voter management systems and candidate management, the majority of which have reached end of life.

The overhaul will also look to address cyber security and resilience concerns, following an initial examination of the nation’s core electoral systems in 2017.

Earlier this year Australia’s electoral chief Tom Rogers warned that the ageing technology behind the systems, largely written in ADABAS and NATURAL, were an ongoing concern for the agency.

He first called for the need for funding to upgrade and replace AEC’s IT systems following the 2016 federal election.

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