Big potential for Australia’s cyber security industry, says PM’s cyber guy

Australia can have a ‘small but powerful cyber security industry that is global in its reach’

Initiatives launched as part of the government’s cyber security strategy and National Innovation and Science Agenda can help Australia move from having a “nascent, small cyber security industry” to a “small but powerful cyber security industry that is global in its reach,” according to Alastair MacGibbon.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull earlier this year appointed MacGibbon to the role of Special Advisor on Cyber Security. The role was created as part of the cyber security strategy, which was launched in May.

The strategy has “two parts” MacGibbon told the SINET61 conference yesterday. On the one side is the “protect side”, which includes initiatives such as strengthening the Australian Signals Directorate and CERT Australia.

“But the most important, the most exciting part of the strategy is actually what I call the ‘grow side’ – the ecosystem, the innovation system, the entrepreneur side,” MacGibbon said.

The strategy will aid the development of a domestic cyber security industry that is focused on export and growth, MacGibbon said.

Examples of initiatives on that front include the Cyber Security Growth Centre, which was initially announced as part of the government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda. The government has earmarked $30 million for the project.

“The idea behind that centre is not just conversation, not just bringing people together,” MacGibbon said. “That only goes so far. It’s actually to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.”

The centre will help boost opportunities to develop, commercialise and export IP, he said.

The centre “is potentially one of the great things that is in the cyber security strategy,” MacGibbon said, and is part of moving cyber security “from being a problem into an opportunity”.

Australia shouldn’t attempt to replicate what other countries have done, he said — “We can’t create an ‘Australian Silicon Valley’”. Instead the question is “how do we take what is uniquely Australian and make it into something that adds value, that gives us something that is worthwhile not just to ourselves [but] that we’re excited to sell to the world”.

The government needs to create an environment where cyber security IP can “organically thrive and growth without hindrance from government, with help from government when appropriate.”

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