Australia now has a Minister for Cyber Security in the form of Claire O’Neil – a Victorian member appointed for the Ministry for Home Affairs too. Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced this historic moment for the country that never had an independent portfolio for cyber security in the cabinet.
Though the Minister for Cyber Security’s role is yet-to-be-defined, it is significant that none of the G20 members has an independent authority for cyber security.
Australia has seen a massive rise in cyber threats in the last two years, especially ransomware and phishing attacks. Therefore, the appointment is noteworthy and gives hope to tackling threats and enhancing Cyber Security.
Earlier, the former Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews and the former Assistant Defence Minister Andrew Hastie shared the Cyber Security policies and duties.
Background of Minister of Cyber Security
Before getting into her new leadership role that is yet to be defined, let’s glance through the background of the new minister for Cyber Security.
Claire O’Neil is a Harvard graduate and a former Fulbright scholar. Before commencing her Parliament innings in 2013, she served as a policy adviser to the then Treasurer Wayne Swan and as an engagement manager at McKinsey.
O’Neil has been a Shadow Minister for Innovation, Technology, and the Future of Work for June 2019 and January 2021. Before her current appointment as the Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Cyber Security, she served as a Shadow Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services for over a year.
Cyber Security Challenges for Minister of Cyber Security
Below are some key challenges the Minister of Cyber Security will have to address and tackle,
1. Ransomware threats
The Australian Cyber Security Centre reported about 500 ransomware attacks in Australia from 2020 to 2021. Ransomware attacks pose a severe threat to the country and businesses and can pose harmful business and national security risks. The increasing attacks and innovation in the types of attacks are the critical challenges for the new Minister of Cyber Security. Her cabinet will also have to find measures to prevent businesses from paying the ransom and create awareness about the attack. The government already has a Ransomware Action Plan that resonates with the government’s efforts to tackle ransomware threats.
2. Cyber angle of AUKUS
The second key challenge of the new cyber cabinet will be analysing the cyber dimension of the trilateral pact ASUS. The new minister will have to focus on the recognition of security tests like IRAP (Infosec Registered Assessors Program) in all AUKUS countries to help security testing and passing companies sell into the UK and the US.
3. Measuring the impact
In the last two years, Australia saw a massive rise in Cyber Security threats like ransomware, and the health sector was affected significantly. The third challenge of Claire O’Neil and her team will be to measure these attacks’ impact and the prevention plans’ effectiveness. It will help her to create a new strategy against cyber threats in Australia.
4. Tracking malicious activities
Fourth, the minister should direct internationally powerful instruments like AUSTRAC, DFAT, ASD, AFP, and ASIO to beat known and unknown malicious cyber actors. The new minister and her cabinet shall pressure the government and financial entities to track down all malicious activities like hacking and ransomware. She must also ask them to have transparency on all the tracking done.
5. Focus on developing technology
The Minister for Cyber Security must focus on developing technology and implementing security policies for them.
6. Join hands with Foreign Ministry
Claire O’Neil and her team shall join hands with the Foreign Ministry to check for cyber security aid from international waters in Cyber Security.
7. More Cyber Security Jobs
Another key area of focus shall be on increasing the Cyber security jobs to increase the Cyber Security skilled individuals to support the country against Cyber Security.
8. Invest in more Research & Innovation
The new minister must motivate more investment in Cyber Security science to research and find innovation in technologies to prevent cyber threats.
Australian Government’s Cyber Security Strategy & Implementation
The Australian government has been actively working against cyber threats and safeguarding businesses and individuals against cyber-attacks. Companies, individuals, and the government all share cyber security responsibility.
Aussie Government is the driving force behind the country’s cyber partnership initiative that aims to mitigate risks and prevent any cyber threats to national security.
Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy 2020
Current Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy 2020 aims to secure all Australians from digital threats. It’s a cumulative effort of the government, businesses, and the Australian people. The government has invested $1.67 billion over ten years to overcome cyber threats. The focus of the strategy will be to:
- To protect critical infrastructure against cyber attacks
- To secure national data
- To increase Cyber Security skills by educating the community
- Granting support to SMEs to protect them from cyber-attacks.
- Create awareness of Cyber Security
- To enhance government networks and data with a more robust defence scheme.
- Fostering strong collaborations with industries via the Joint Cyber Security Program.
- Finding ways and strategies to shut down the dark web and other malicious actors.
Ransomware Action Plan
The Minister of Home Affairs announced Ransomware Action Plan on 13 October 2021. It highlights Australia’s key strengths in fighting ransomware attacks and has information on the helpline for victims. Its framework includes elements of the National Strategy
International Cyber Security and Critical Technology
Values, security, and prosperity form the three pillars of Australia’s International Cyber and Critical Technology Engagement Strategy. It will assist Australia’s international engagement in cyber and critical technology issues. The strategy aims to create an innovative environment of opportunities through digital trade while mitigating cyber security risks. It seeks to enhance national security and international peace and digitally promote democratic principles and human rights.
Industry Advisory Panel
The Minister for Home Affairs introduced Industry Advisory Panel to shoulder the development of the Australian Cyber Security Strategy 2020 with its strategic solutions.
Australian Cyber Security Hotline
The Australian Cyber Security Hotline for Australians is (1300 CYBER1). It offers 24×7 help to the Australian people on cyber threats and any hacking risks faced.
Strong future for cyber security in NSW
The first-ever Minister for Cyber Security and an independent cabinet for digital risks hint at a secure online future in NSW. It will be great to look forward to the role and responsibilities of the new Minister of Cyber Security and the changes she introduces to enhance Australia’s Cyber Security.
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