White Paper earmarks $300m boost for Defence cyber capabilities

Cyber attacks ‘a real and present threat,’ defence minister says

Defence minister Marise Payne visiting the Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HQJOC) in Bungendore, New South Wales, earlier this month. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

Defence minister Marise Payne visiting the Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HQJOC) in Bungendore, New South Wales, earlier this month. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

The government will spend between $300 million and $400 million on boosting the Defence’s ‘cyber’ capabilities, as part of the new Defence White Paper unveiled today.

The funding is earmarked for over a 10-year period through to 2025.

The funding is in addition to $5 billion dedicated to fixing what the government describes as underinvestment in Defence’s ICT systems over the last decade.

“We take most seriously the cyber threat internationally and to Australia,” Marise Payne said today at the White Paper’s launch.

Cyber attacks “are a real and present threat” to the Australian Defence Force’s warfighting capabilities, “as well as to other agencies and other sectors of the Australian economy and critical infrastructure,” the minister said.

“In response, the government will strengthen the defence cyber work force and systems over the next decade to deter and defend against the threat of cyber attack.”

“The government will strengthen Defence’s cyber capabilities to protect itself and other critical Australian government systems from malicious cyber intrusion and disruption,” the White Paper states.

“Enhancing the resilience of Defence networks, including networks used by our deployed forces, and the capability of the Australian Cyber Security Centre are key areas of focus in strengthening Australia’s cyber defences.”

The investment will include establishing an R&D capability to harden ADF’s military information systems, and recruiting new military and civilian specialists.

Read more: Plugging the leaks: How to prevent a data breach

The Department of Defence is currently seeking a new assistant secretary to head up ICT Security within its Chief Information Officer Group.

“One of the key risks to delivering an enhanced cyber capability will continue to be in recruiting and retaining this highly skilled workforce,” notes the Integrated Investment Program that was launched alongside the White Paper.

“The particular knowledge and skills required are currently in short supply across Australia.”

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