Govt seeks input on critical infrastructure protection

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Govt seeks input on critical infrastructure protection

Safeguarding telco and other assets.

The Turnbull government has released a discussion paper [pdf] seeking views on how to manage difficult and evolving risks to national security.

As part of the government's plan to safeguard national assets, the Critical Infrastructure Centre was established in January this year.

Now, the government - through Attorney-General George Brandis' office - wants input on how the CIC should operate and how an assets register that shows who owns and operates critical infrastructure in high-risk sectors should be set up and maintained.

Purchasers of critical infrastructure would have to provide "relevant information" to the register, and existing owners would have an obligation to advise of divestments of interests as soon as they intended to do so.

The CIC will support the controversial telecommunications sector security reforms (TSSR) which the government released in 2015 and which were introduced to parliament in November last year.

Telcos and internet providers have criticised the proposed TSSR legislation for being overreaching and containing onerous compliance requirements that hamper their ability to respond to cyber threats.

Along with electricity, water and ports, the government said the telecommunications sector is at the highest risk of espionage, sabotage and coercion.

As an example the government said a telco operator or contractor "could monitor customers' voice or data traffic to gather information on behalf of a foreign intelligence service."

Submissions close on March 21.

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