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Cyber security

Defence personnel working in the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) and the Chief Information Officer Group are on the front line of efforts to counter ransomware, spear phishing emails and other targeted cyber intrusions.

Australian Government Cyber Security Centre
Communications Information Specialist, Petty Officer Talei Stoll (right), Flying Officer Phillip Johnson (left) and Electrical Engineer, Flight Lieutenant James Mead discuss information assurance procedures within No. 462 Squadron located in the Edinburgh Defence Precinct, South Australia.

Deputy Director ASD and Coordinator ACSC, Clive Lines, said the organisations deal with thousands of cyber security incidents a year.

‘Many adversaries broadly follow the same approach when attempting to compromise a network, despite each threat group employing their own unique tradecraft,’ Clive said.

‘The methods they are using are becoming more convincing and difficult to spot. Many spear phishing emails employ psychological manipulation and deceit to establish trust and elicit information,’ Clive said.

He said more foreign states have acquired or are in the process of acquiring cyber espionage capabilities.

‘The ACSC is aware of diverse state-based adversaries attempting cyber espionage against Australian systems, seeking economic, foreign policy, defence and security information to satisfy strategic, operational and commercial intelligence requirements,’ he said.

‘Australian Government networks are regularly targeted by the full breadth of cyber adversaries. While foreign states represent the greatest level of threat, cyber criminals pose a threat to government-held information and provision of services through both targeted and inadvertent compromises of government networks with ransomware.

‘Hacktivists will also continue to use low-sophistication cyber capabilities, such as website defacement, the hack and release of personal or embarrassing information, distributed denial-of-service activities and the hijacking of social media accounts, generating attention and support for their cause.’

Defence Information Technology Security Adviser and Assistant Secretary ICT Security, Lindsay Morgan, said the Chief Information Officer Group works closely with the ACSC and ASD to understand current threats and implement measures to prevent, detect and respond to those threats.

‘Protecting Australia from cyber threats is one of the greatest national security challenges. For that reason, Defence will continue to invest in cyber and information security,’ Lindsay said.

Defence has one of the largest ICT footprints in Australia, supporting a wide range of military, administrative and management capabilities. The organisation is implementing numerous projects to enhance its ICT infrastructure to combat cyber intrusions.

‘Defence is making substantial improvements to the sustainability, security and currency of the Defence ICT environment through the ICT infrastructure transformation program, which will significantly enhance Defence’s ICT security protections,’ Lindsay said.

‘Defence has also identified future programs of work through the Integrated Investment Program to enhance Defence’s cyber security environment, including the ICT security program and deployed defence cyber operations.’