Govt reveals $1.35bn investment in cybersecurity over next decade

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Govt reveals $1.35bn investment in cybersecurity over next decade

After surprise hack threat warning a fortnight ago.

The government has unveiled a $1.35 billion investment to beef up Australia’s cybersecurity capabilities over the next decade, a third of which will go into a new team of 500 specialists.

The investment is being called the “largest ever … in cybersecurity” in the country, and will be known as the CESAR package.

CESAR stands for cyber enhanced situational awareness and response.

“My government’s record investment in our nation’s cybersecurity will help ensure we have the tools and capabilities we need to fight back and keep Australians safe,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.

The CESAR package confirms what has been rumoured to have been in the works for the past fortnight after Morrison fronted a surprise Friday morning press conference with news of sustained but unspecified foreign actors targeting critical Australian interests.

Of the $1.35 billion, $470 million - about one-third - will be put into assembling a team of over 500 new security specialists that will sit within the Australian Signals Directorate.

Some of the new cash injection will also go towards building Australia’s offensive capabilities, an expansion that was first flagged by the ASD in early April.

This is said to include the ability for government officials and industry to recognise and block attack traffic from even entering the country.

The government said it would put “over $31 million” into enhancing the ASD’s ability “to disrupt cybercrime offshore, taking the fight to foreign criminals that seek to target Australians, and providing assistance to federal, state and territory law enforcement agencies.”

A new cyber threat-sharing platform will be built for $35 million, “enabling industry and government to share intelligence about malicious cyber activity, and block emerging threats in near real-time.”

Additionally, $12 million will go “towards new strategic mitigations and active disruption options, enabling ASD and Australia’s major telecommunications providers to prevent malicious cyber activity from ever reaching millions of Australians across the country by blocking known malicious websites and viruses at speed.”

Other investments detailed this morning include at least:

  • $118 million to expand ASD’s data science and intelligence capabilities on emerging threats
  • $62 million to deliver a national situational awareness capability “to better enable ASD to understand and respond to cyber threats on a national scale”. 
  • $20 million to establish “cutting-edge research laboratories to better understand threats to emerging technology, ensuring that ASD continues to provide timely and authoritative advice”.

Not all of CESAR was announced today: some parts will be held back and “ detailed in our 2020 cyber security strategy”, the government said.

The timing of that strategy’s release was not updated, though it was recently listed as “the coming months”.

Of the $1.35 billion, $748 million was announced today, leaving some $602 million still to be allocated.

The full investment would also mean relying on successive governments to carry through with the original plan. 

In its entirety, the CESAR package “will put our nation on the front foot in combating cyber threats and our investment in a cyber security workforce will help ensure we have the people we need to meet future cyber challenges,” Defence Minister Senator Reynolds said.

“For example, this package will enable ASD and Australia’s major telecommunications providers to prevent malicious cyber activity from reaching millions of Australians by blocking known malicious websites and computer viruses at speed,”

“This package is one part of our $15 billion investment in cyber and information warfare capabilities that will form part of Defence’s 2020 Force Structure Plan to address the rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape.”

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