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Tuesday, 19 February 2019 05:47

Govt urged not to treat cyber security as 'boutique issue' Featured

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Yohan Ramasundara: "We cannot just shrug our shoulders and let this stand. This kind of behavior has unfortunately become business as usual, and it needs to end." Yohan Ramasundara: "We cannot just shrug our shoulders and let this stand. This kind of behavior has unfortunately become business as usual, and it needs to end." Supplied

The president of the Australian Computer Society, Yohan Ramasundara, has said the Federal Government needs to take cyber security more seriously, claiming that it was seen as a "boutique issue" that was very often out-sourced or delegated to "a couple of techies in a backroom".

His statement came after Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Parliament on Monday that a sophisticated state actor was behind the recent attack on the Parliament network, which also affected the three main political parties that are part of government and the Opposition.

"We need real skills development and acquisition in the Australian Public Service," Ramasundara said. "We need accountability, and more priority given to projects like the Australian Cyber Security Centre to ensure that Australia’s institutions are as well protected as is feasible."

He called for "real and serious consequences" for those who perpetrate these attacks but did not specify what those consequences should be.

Ramasundara said the hack went beyond the bounds of regular work by spies and should be considered an act of aggression.

"Our response shouldn’t end with naming and shaming. We should be very public about who hacked us and why," he said.

"But beyond that, we should be working with international partners to formulate a real response, with real teeth, to deter these kinds of actions in the future. This should not be the new normal."

He said in the interconnected world with more than millions of IoT devices, one was only as strong as the weakest link.

"Greater collaboration among government entities, key service providers and stakeholders is extremely important. At the same time we need effective programs to increase the awareness and educate staff, general public and our next generation to improve our cyber hygiene," Ramasundara said.

"The fact is that digital services, data and information management is a core function of government. State-sponsored and other hackers have access to various cyber arms at low cost and they continue to evolve their tactics. Our government need an immediate and comprehensive longer term plan to manage this accelerating risk.

"We have to raise the skill levels in critical technology roles, and demand enhanced capability and ICT professionalism within the public sector, which has become even more important and a matter of national security as cyber-attacks emerge as major threats to the nations worldwide.”

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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