The Federal Government has unveiled a $1.35 billion dollar injection for its cyber intelligence agency in what’s being called the largest-ever cybersecurity investment.
The package has been dubbed ‘Cesar’, or the Cyber Enhanced Situational Awareness and Response plan, and is said to represent just a small part of the government’s wider $15 billion cyber security investment plan.
The funds are to be handed out over the coming decade to boost the capabilities of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), and are said to create 500 new cybersecurity jobs.
“The Federal Government’s top priority is protecting our nation’s economy, national security and sovereignty. Malicious cyber activity undermines that,” Scott Morrison said.
“My Government’s record investment in our nation’s cybersecurity will help ensure we have the tools and capabilities we need to fight back and keep Australians safe,” he continued to explain.
At the time, Morrison said that “this activity is targeting Australian organisations across a range of sectors, including all levels of government, industry, political organisations, education, health, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure.”
The package includes $31 million to bolster the ASD’s technical skills to disrupt an overseas attack, and $181 million to improve its ability to calculate impending cyber threats with a new data science and intelligence program. $20 million will be spent on new laboratories to experiment with new threat mitigation strategies.
$470 million is slated for the creation of 500 new positions within the Australian Signals Directorate.
Linda Reynolds, the Federal Defence Minister has said that $12 million will be invested into “active disruption” campaigns designed to shield Australian users from malicious cyber actors.
“For example,” she said, “this package will enable ASD and Australia’s major telecommunications providers to prevent malicious cyber activity from reaching millions of Australians by blocking known malicious websites and computer viruses at speed.”
Reynolds added that the announcement of $1.35 billion into cyber security is a small part of the Coalition’s upcoming $15 billion plan for cybersecurity and digital warfare, the full scope of which will be revealed in the 2020 Force Structure Plan.
There will also be considerably more details in the Government’s 2020 Cyber Security Strategy, which will be released at an unknown time in the future. Labor has criticised the government for taking its time in finalising the Cyber Security Strategy plan.
While there’s been no official statement from government figures, experts are pointing to the likelihood of China being behind the wide scale cyberattacks that the Prime Minister addressed weeks ago.