The Department of Defence's recent move to start hiring cyber-security staff in bulk appears to be just the start of its plans to secure its own electronic borders, and those of other potential targets of national importance.
Last week the department advertised for a sizable clutch of senior IT security staff to be part of its Australian Defence Force Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) based in Canberra.
However, the department shortly after clarified it would soon conduct a separate hiring initiative for the newly opened and separate Cyber Security Operations Centre.
"The roles of these positions are specific to defending Defence networks against security threats," Defence said in an emailed statement late last week.
"The recently advertised positions referred to are not part of recruitment for the Cyber Security Operations Centre. The Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) will commence recruiting shortly and will be looking for people highly trained in information technology and analysis."
While the CSIRT will specifically defend computer networks within Defence, the CSOC has a broader role — providing government with an understanding of cyber-threats against Australian interests and coordinating and assisting the operational response to electronic events that have national importance across both government and critical infrastructure.
Defence Minister John Faulkner opened the CSOC in mid-January, describing the move as a major step in meeting Defence's commitment to understand online threats.
"The Cyber Security Operations Centre will employ around 130 highly-skilled information technology experts, engineers and analysts drawn from the DSD. There will also be representatives from the Defence Intelligence Organisation and the ADF and scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Organisation as well as representation from the Attorney-General's Department, ASIO and the AFP," Faulkner said at the time.
The position of the CSIRT and CSOC within Defence, in addition to existing groups such as the Defence Signals Directorate and the Australian Government Computer Emergency Readiness team (CERT Australia) within the Attorney-General's Department — as well as the existing non-profit and non-government AusCERT — means Australia now has a plethora of electronic security organisations to handle serious electronic threats.
As several of these have been created recently, it remains unclear thus far what the exact levels of jurisdiction are between their operations. The various state and Federal branches of Australian police forces also operate significant e-crime units.