Cyber security an important investment


Professor Vijay Varadharajan believes the Federal Government’s $1.35 billion investment into cyber security is a good start.

“Australia needs to protect its cyber infrastructures just like it needs to protect its way of living,” Professor Varadharajan said.

“In the cyber world, it is about information warfare and protecting digital interactions happening in the economy and the society from cyber attacks.

“As the economy becomes more digitized and enterprises and government agencies adopt digital technologies and services, there is a much greater need to protect our cyber infrastructure; it is part and parcel of the competitive arena each country is playing in.”

Professor Vijay Varadharajan. Photo: Peter Stoop

As Global Innovation Chair in Cybersecurity at the University of Newcastle, Professor Varadharajan works with government, industry and research peers on developing security and privacy technologies counteracting threats in distributed and network systems and online services.

He says that government investment in this area is critical for enhancing the cyber security capabilities of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

Known as Cyber Enhanced Situational Awareness and Response (CESAR), the package means the country can identify more effectively cyber threats before they happen, disrupt malicious activities by foreign cyber criminals as well as help to build trustworthy partnerships with industry and government protecting better the Australian society.

It is clear that cyber attacks are increasing in the world and Australia is getting its fair share. Last week, the Government announced increasing malicious cyber activity against Australia both in frequency and scale as well as in its sophistication.

“The need to enhance the cyber capabilities of the agencies to counteract attacks is timely, which is what the package is intended to do,” Professor Varadharajan says.

“If one looks at the overall needs, not only it is about developing appropriate cyber technologies to defend and counteracting attacks, but also about predictive analytics as to when future attacks can occur and how.

“Furthermore, it is essential to develop and nurture talent in this area and increase the skilled workforce, as there is a major shortage of cyber security professionals in Australia (as well as in several parts of the world).

“In addition, we need to improve the secure coordination and trusted sharing of information between the appropriate government agencies, industry and academia, so that Australia can be better prepared not only to thwart these attacks but also become a leader in this area.”

The Minister for Defense, Senator Linda Reynolds, says the massive investment will have a real impact on the cyber security of all Australians.

“The package will put our nation on the front foot in combatting cyber threats and our investment in a cyber security workforce will help ensure we have the people we need to meet future cyber challenges,” she says.

It is set to create 500 new jobs within the ASD and Professor Varadharajan says these cyber security professionals will work to enhance the capability of the cyber industry.

“They will be trained in secure infrastructures, malware analysis, secure machine learning and forensic tools,” he said.

“They will be capable of undertaking defensive security as well as offensive security.

“Defensive security involves defending our infrastructures and assets, whereas offensive aspects include learning about our enemy and disrupting their activities.”

Moving forward, Professor Varadharajan says there needs to be a larger investment in the country’s cyber security.

“It’s on the right path but I think Australia should invest more in this,” he says.

“Our economy depends on our digital infrastructure being safe and protected.

“It is vital that we increase our investment in cyber security because at the end of the day, this is where the battles are going to be fought.

“It is critical for maintaining our sovereignty.”

For more information, go to the Prime Minister of Australia’s website.