The federal government's $1.46 billion funding in improvements to cyber security networks and establishment of an Australian Cyber Security Centre has received a largely positive response from information security professionals who say it is a good step forward.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the funds would help strengthen Australia's most sensitive networks against attacks from cyber criminals and nation states. The Cyber Security Centre will be operational by the end of 2013 and combine existing security capabilities across the Attorney-General's Department, Defence, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) in one location.
Gartner Australia research director Rob McMillan told Computerworld Australia that Gillard's announcement has been a long time coming.
"This is a good step forward, it's more evolutionary than revolutionary," he said. "If you look at the major bullet points of the National Security Strategy (PDF), a lot of these have been talked about before such as co-operation with industry and the trusted information security network."
McMillan added that the Australian government will continue to make security improvements to their technical infrastructure but this will not stop the cyber criminals from trying to find ways in.
"This is the natural order of security. The 'bad guys' keep trying to get in and the good guys will keep building stronger defences. An arms race is a good way to describe it."
Australian Computer Society (ACS) CEO Alan Patterson said that alongside the recommendations of the National Security Strategy, the ACS would like to see the registration of ICT professionals to allow trusted authorities to share timely updates and information about security threats.
"These are standards that industry and the public takes for granted as being integral to the practice of many other high trust occupations such as law, medicine and accountancy," he said in a statement.
Patterson also called for Australia to invest in research and development into security technologies which are relevant to protecting computing systems and information infrastructures in the digital economy.
"These include secure distributed information and network systems, mobile software systems, secure applications and Web-based online services."
According to Huawei Australia chairman John Lord, the federal government's commitment to bolster Australian security defences was encouraging.
"We stand ready and willing to work with industry and government to make this vision a reality," he said in a statement. "Globally, Huawei is already working in partnership with governments and security agencies in this critical area."
In October 2012, Lord proposed the establishment of a national cyber security evaluation centre in Australia to test the security credentials of technologies being implemented into critical infrastructure projects.
A Telstra spokesman said the telco would review details of the cyber security component which formed part of the National Security Strategy and look for opportunities to work with government and other parties to protect Australian interests.
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