Australia requires more streamlined cyber policy structure: Report

Country ranked fifth behind Singapore, South Korea, Japan and US by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute

Australia’s cyber security readiness has received high scores but a new cyber strategy and more streamlined cyber policy structure is needed, according to a new report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

The report, <em>Cyber Maturity in the Asia Pacific Region 2015 assessed 20 different countries including Australia, the United States, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, China, Vietnam, Brunei, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Fiji, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and North Korea.

Australia received a score of 79.9 which placed it fifth behind Singapore (81.8), South Korea (82.8), Japan (85.1) and the US (90.7).

The score was based on seven criteria spread across five categories.

Governance

This covers the government’s organisational structure for cyber matters, including policy, security, critical infrastructure, computer emergency response teams (CERTs), crime and consumer protection.

The report made note Australia’s Cyber Security Review which was announced by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in November last year.

The review is looking at how government and industry can work together to improve the security of online systems.

“While the government is engaging with the private sector during the review process, it’s yet to be seen what the review will deliver and what changes will be implemented as a result. Australia’s score could improve with the release of a new cyber strategy and a more streamlined cyber policy structure to complement the country’s operational cyber improvements,” the report states.

According to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the government will "soon" consider the outcomes of the review.

Australia's score out of 10: 7 (for organisational structures) & 8 (for legislation and regulation)

Cyber crime

This covers cyber crime units and law enforcement.

The report noted the existence of the Australian High Tech Crime Centre, which is part of the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

“The AFP coordinates with many regional partners on cybercrime issues and helps to build capacity in the region, particularly in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, where it has helped to establish several hi-tech and cybercrime centres. The AFP prosecutes financial crimes and works in close collaboration with international partners in doing so,” states the report.

Australia's score: 9

Military

This covers the military’s role in cyber space, cyber policy and cyber security.

“Australia still lacks a publicly available strategy or policy document that guides the department’s and the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF’s) approach to cyber threats,” the report states.

The report notes that the government has indicated the upcoming Defence White Paper will look to address future cyber capabilities and the role it has to play in contributing to the protection of Australia and its critical systems.

“It [Defence] also struggles to engage beyond traditional intelligence partners on cyber security issues. Australia’s score could improve with further clarification of the ADF’s roles and responsibilities,”the report states.

Australia's score: 7

Business

This covers the dialogue between government and industry on cyber issues.

As part of the Cyber Security Review, the government has engaged with the business community including a meeting between the Prime Minister and CEOs of Australian companies.

“Beyond the Review, there’s sustained two-way dialogue between government and key sectors such as banking, telecommunications and critical network infrastructure [CNI]. This effort could be both deepened and widened to incorporate more sectors,” states the report.

Australia's score: 7

Social

This covers public awareness, debate and media coverage of cyber issues.

There is very strong public awareness of cyber security issues in Australia, driven by “solid media coverage of cyber threats and cyber safety,” the report says.

An active civil society discussion on cyber issues is driven by universities and think tanks.

“Private sector companies are also becoming increasingly involved in awareness raising and end-user education. The AFP is pairing with the Commonwealth Bank to deliver the ThinkUKnow cyber safety campaign,” states the report.

Australia's score: 8 (public awareness) and 9 (Internet connectivity)

In 2014, Australia received a score of 75.8 which placed it third behind the UK (81.2) and the US (86.3).

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Tags Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI)cyber security

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