Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised a $156 million boost to Australia’s cybersecurity capabilities if his party is returned to power next month, with new training and scholarship opportunities as the centrepiece.
Of the promised investment, $50 million would be put towards a “cybersecurity national workforce growth program”, which Morrison said would “create the cyber workforce we will need in the decades to come.”
Morrison said he would convene a group consisting Defence, Home Affairs, industry and academia … “to advise the government on a program that grows the cyber security workforce”.
However, some initiatives were already flagged for the new funding, including “scholarships for postgraduate, undergraduate and TAFE studies directly associated with cyber security, with 50 percent of the scholarships reserved for women.”
A Morrison-led government would also park funds for “cyber security challenges and educational activities that are targeting primary school, high school, and tertiary students” and work to develop “specialist cyber security related courses, which directly meet the needs of Defence, government and industry.”
It would also try to create more “work experience placements and government/industry exchanges to help develop the practical skills of our national cyber security workforce”.
The $156 million package would also include $40 million to set up a capability within the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) to counter threats posed by “increasingly sophisticated organised cybercrime gangs” operating from outside of Australia.
Morrison pledged an additional $26 million “to support the ACSC to expand its assistance to the community in the fight against malicious cyber criminals and actors.”
This would be used to fund the creation of an “online cyber security training program providing practical cyber advice for small businesses, older Australians and Australian families,” Morrison said.
The ACSC’s 24/7 cyber hotline would also be bolstered with a “dedicated helpdesk for small and medium sized businesses, older Australians and families to report cyber security incidents with specially trained staff who can provide tailored technical cyber security advice to prevent and respond to cyber security incidents.”
The last $40 million of the package would be given to the ADF and Defence “to grow its cyber warfare workforce”.
This would mostly take the form of funding to “accelerate the creation of 230 positions for military cyber operations specialists in the ADF over the next four years”.
Some money would also be put into the ADF’s gap year program, funding “up to 100 new gap year positions each year that are focused on cyber and information warfare domains.”