It was announced earlier this year that the Australian Government has pledged $10.7 million over the upcoming four years to new Cyber Security Advisory Office. This is a clear indication that cyber security is becoming an ever-increasing concern and one which is costing the government, businesses and individuals dearly. As hackers become more adept and our lives become ever more embroiled in technology, the question of IT security has become a national and international concern. Here’s a brief overview of what the Cyber Security Advisory Office (hereafter CSAO) will do.
The budget document from the Australian Government cites the CSAO’s task as a body which will ‘provide strengthened central governance and assurance for cyber security and broader project vulnerability across government’. It will become part of the Digital Transformation Agency and focus on improving the cyber security of agencies. The creation came after the 2016 Census was forced to be taken offline when numerous Distributed Denial of Service Attacks were launched against it. The cyber security of the census was the responsibility of the Australian Bureau of Statistics and IBM. These breaches drew the attention of the Australian Government which recognised a greater focus needed to be placed on cyber security in the future.
The creation of the CSAO is intended to make cyber security an integral part of any online services subsequently offered by government agencies. The government recognises that it will require the expertise of IT security firms with more advanced capabilities in order to protect its own systems. There is also the acknowledgement that every agency uses different systems for their cyber security and that the ways in which hackers threaten us is changing every day. Therefore, these IT security systems must be fluid and up to date at all times, capable of reacting to changes and developments instantly in order to keep agencies secure. As such, it has become necessary to establish the CSAO within the government to do exactly this.
However, despite a positive reception overall of this budget allocation, the head of the Australian Computer Society, Anthony Wong, highlighted that there was still more which needed to be done to keep our IT security strong. Over the next few years, the Australian economy is predicted to suffer from a skill gap totalling 67,000 workers in the telecommunication and technology field. The current budget has made no official statements referring to STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and maths) which, Wong predicts, is going to be a problem in the future. Without dedicated investment in this aspect of Australia’s education system, the number of qualified individuals entering the workforce is going to be well below what is necessary.
As the CSAO is created and begins to work to strengthen the security of government agencies and their digital initiatives, a greater emphasis should be placed on cyber security by all organisations and businesses within Australia. Hackers are becoming smarter, more advanced and more inventive when it comes to penetrating our IT systems. The investment of the Australian Government should be seen by businesses as their cue to also invest in their IT security to protect themselves, their employees and their consumers.