Home Security Australia needs to loosen reliance on US for its cyber defence, says academic

Australia needs to loosen reliance on US for its cyber defence, says academic

There has been a call for a new Australian cyber military industrial strategy, independent of the United States, so that Australia can be prepared for major war.

The call comes from UNSW Canberra Professor Greg Austin, acting director of the Australian Centre for Cyber Security at the University of New South Wales, who warns that Australia cannot count on significant operational support from its major ally to defend against a complex cyber attack in wartime.

Professor Austin’s comments come in the wake of a report on the economic impact of rapidly changing geopolitical events launched by Christopher Pyne, Federal Minister for Defence Industry, on Monday.

"A number of specialists agree that the Americans will be too busy defending not only their own networks, but tens of thousands of unique computerised systems in deployed weapons platforms, and in outer space,” Professor Austin explains.

In the report, Professor Austin writes notes that the Australian Defence Force is “on the cusp of a revolution as it prepares to reorganise for cyber-enabled warfare; and the Australian cyber security industry is set for significant growth.”

But, in a criticism, Professor Austin says that “the military shake-up comes two decades late, and the country faces some security penalties because of the delay.”

He calls for a national innovation strategy which he says is needed to keep Australia at the forefront of international best practice in cyber technologies that can be applied in war.

According to the UNSW academic, this includes not only a military strategy for cyber-enabled warfare, but a strategy for sovereign cyber war capability and cyber survivability in a time of direct military confrontation with a major power.

Professor Austin highlights the need for a “renovation of military institutions, training and education” for cyber warfare to achieve this, as well as necessary investments in niche technologies and research capabilities".

“The world is at the dawn of the cyber age and highly consequential military technologies are continuing to emerge at fast speed,” he says.

Professor Austin’s complete assessment is contained in the CEDA publication, "Australia’s Place in the World".

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).