The government announced this morning that it will work on a major new whitepaper to provide direction on cybersecurity issues.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland, Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that their departments would work on a document to be a "comprehensive blueprint" to help Australians be confident in being online.
The document is to be developed over the next year and released in the first half of 2012.
McClelland said this morning in an address to Australian business leaders that there had been a shift from the value of being in physical infrastructure to the value of being in intellectual property.
He said that there had always been rogue operators looking to capitalise on someone else's brand. However, exploitation was now changing from cracking open an electronic product to reproduce it, to stealing the information over the internet to be able to make a product.
"In this day and age, there is no need to obtain that physical product," he said.
"Cyber espionage is not just the purview of foreign intelligence agencies," he said, adding that criminal elements and rivals were raring to steal corporate secrets.
He said that security agencies are finding that activity in this sphere is increasing, and that government agencies and companies are having to fight to keep on top of it.
"We acknowledge the growing threat. It's real, it's evolving," he said, concluding that it was unquestionably a national security issue.
"We think these issues are so significant that there is a need for a cybersecurity whitepaper," he said. "Our cyber capacity is relevant to our strength as a nation."
The release by the ministers said that the paper would look at consumer protection, cyber-safety, cybercrime, cybersecurity and cyber defence, and will build on the government's existing 2009 CyberSecurity Safety Strategy.
The creation of the whitepaper will be led by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The government will start public consultation next month for the paper.