​Optus Business, Macquarie Uni to invest AU$10m in cybersecurity hub

Optus Business and Macquarie University will establish a cybersecurity hub that will focus on three topic areas: Computing and IT, business and economics, and security studies and criminology.

Optus Business and Macquarie University will jointly invest AU$10 million to establish a cybersecurity hub that will provide research, degree programs, executive and business short courses, professional recruiting opportunities, and consultancy services to the private sector and government agencies.

Under the partnership, Optus Business and Macquarie University industry experts and academics will cover three topic areas: Computing and IT, business and economics, and security studies and criminology. At the same time it will focus on providing a "holistic approach" to cybercrime, how it is perpetrated, how it affects the economy, and how it impacts policy. The hub will also host cyber awareness events and international engagements that will cover the topic areas.

At the same time, Optus said the hub will have a range of initiatives to enhance Macquarie University's teaching and researching offering, as well as equip and upskill its own staff with the latest cybersecurity skills and expertise. In addition, Optus said the same opportunity will be provided to its enterprise and government customers.

Optus Business managing director John Paitaridis said the cybersecurity hub will address topic areas that are existing priorities of executives and boards of businesses and government agencies.

"While cyber attacks are increasing in frequency and sophistication, most organisations lack the right expertise and skills across their business to identify and manage these attacks.

"As organisations adopt more online and digital channels, they also need to have a fully integrated approach to cybersecurity involving all staff training, management buy-in, effective technology solutions, and knowledge of today's cyber threats," he said.

Similarly, David Wilkinson, Macquarie University corporate engagement and advancement deputy vice-chancellor, welcomed the partnership, saying it will give students a head start in the cybersecurity talent pool and expand the wider cybersecurity training within Optus.

"Cybersecurity has become one of the defining issues of this decade, which is why Macquarie University was one of the first in the country to establish a dedicated policing, intelligence, and counter-terrorism degree," he said.

"The opportunity to partner with Optus, an organisation that deals with cyber threats and challenges on a daily basis, was something we welcomed as it enables us to improve cybersecurity education at all levels -- from the C-level executive through to every employee."

According to Optus, the initiative marks the company's support for the federal government's recently announced AU$240 million cybersecurity strategy, which will focus on closer collaboration with business.

As part of the strategy, the federal government will spend hundreds of millions of dollars defending Australia from foreign cyber attacks, with the centrepiece of the strategy around sharing threat information between business and government, using the existing Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) and new offices in capital cities.

The Australian government will also appoint a Cyber Minister who will assist the prime minister on cybersecurity and appoint a special adviser on cybersecurity within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Separate to the cybersecurity strategy, the federal government pledged AU$30 million back in December toward an industry-led Cyber Security Growth Centre under the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

"A Cyber Security Growth Centre will ensure that Australia is a global industry leader, able to export products and services in the global marketplace while helping Australian businesses and governments to address the growing threat of cybercrime," the government said at the time.

"The new Cyber Security Growth Centre will bring together industry, researchers, and governments to create a national cybersecurity innovation network; develop a national strategy for Australia's cybersecurity industry to become a global leader and attract investment from multinationals; and coordinate cybersecurity research and innovation to reduce overlap and maximise impact."

At the start of the year, the Australian government strengthened its cybersecurity ties with long term ally the United States, announcing the two nations would hold an annual Australia-US Cyber Security Dialogue.

The annual dialogue will be jointly convened by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the US Centre for Strategic and International Studies, and will engage senior representatives from both countries' business, academic, and government sectors to discuss common cyber threats, promote cybersecurity innovation, and shape new business opportunities.

Data61, the organisation that was formed by the merger of NICTA with CSIRO, followed suit shortly after announcing it signed a a memorandum of understanding with Cyber London (CyLon) that will see Australia and the United Kingdom share expertise, resources, and capital to accelerate cybersecurity innovation in each country.

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