The federal government has revealed it intends to create cyber ‘sprint teams’ within the Australian Cyber Security Centre as part of efforts to prevent and mitigate attacks on government networks.
The measure, outlined in the 2019-20 budget, also involves the creation of a ‘Cyber Security Response Fund’. The amount of funding was not revealed, with the budget documents citing “national security reasons”.
Budget documents state that the government will “provide funding to enhance cyber security arrangements for whole-of-government systems in relation to the 2019 Federal election, and to mitigate potential cyber threats through enhanced monitoring and response capabilities.”
The move to bolster security follows an attack on the parliamentary computing network earlier this year. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has attributed the hack to a “sophisticated state actor” but the government has held off on naming the entity it believes responsible for the attack.
The PM in February revealed that during the investigation of the incident, which was led by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), evidence was uncovered that revealed the same entity had penetrated systems belonging to the Liberal, National and Labor parties.
The Department of Parliamentary Services has revealed that it has face challenges implementing some of the measures that the ACSC advocates because of the wide variety of applications employed by MPs.
Electoral Commission ICT upgrade
The government said the Australian Electoral Commission will receive funds to upgrade its aging core infrastructure as well as deploy “new polling place technology”. The AEC will receive $10.8 million from 2019-20, with the funds previously provisioned for use in 2021-22 to roll out polling place technology.
National security funding
Canberra has earmarked $571.4 million over five years from 2018-19 to boost the capabilities of the Australian Federal Police and ASIO.
That includes $512.8 million over five years from 2018-19 to help the AFP “enhance critical capabilities and operations, including counter-terrorism activities”.
ASIO will receive $58.6 million in 2019-20 “to sustain current operations and undertake preliminary work to further enhance its future operations.”
“The terrorist threat to Australia remains at probable, cyber threats are unrelenting and increasing and there are new and emerging national security challenges,” said a statement issued by the office of home affairs minister Peter Dutton over the weekend.