Cyber threats outpacing government action

AAP Newswire

2 minute read

Federal government efforts to boost Australia's cyber security capabilities are being outpaced by the growing scale of threats, experts warn.

A report, released on Wednesday, found just four of 83 goals set in a cyber security strategy launched by Malcolm Turnbull a year ago have been achieved.

While another 20 were "on track", the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said 22 others needed greater attention to meet the four-year timeframe.

No work has begun on 14 other outcomes.

Authors Zoe Hawkins and Liam Nevill said the constant stream of cyber events highlights how serious a challenge cyber security had become.

"Unfortunately, while the government is working hard, the pace and scale of the issue is outgrowing the government's current efforts," they said in a statement.

Also concerning was the lack of transparency about the government's plans for specific tasks and activities committed to in the document.

The report claims partners in the private sector have been kept in the dark and not given clear timelines, despite being expected to take leadership on some initiatives.

It comes on the same day the prime minister will hold talks with executives from major companies in Canberra about their role in fighting cyber crime.

"We want them to look at developing products and innovation that would enable them to offer cyber security services to their customers," Dan Tehan, the minister in charge of cyber security, told News Corp.

The review found activities needed to measure if the strategy has had a positive impact on cyber security, such as data collection, also haven't started.

"Knowing if the work that's taking place is making meaningful change is critical to understanding the next steps for cyber security in Australia," the authors said.

While nearly $500 million of new money has been made available to cyber-related initiatives, funding remained a challenge.

Key agencies are being asked to do more without the required resources, including the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, which is responsible for the strategy but has received no extra funding to deliver the policy.

Regardless, the report by ASPI's International Cyber Policy Centre said "significant encouraging progress" had been made over the past 12 months.

The appointment of Mr Tehan and Alastair MacGibbon as the prime minister's special advisor on cyber security has helped put cyber issues in the spotlight and improve transparency.