Atlassian security director to lead Australia's AU$31.9m cybersecurity centre

The Australian government has appointed the Atlassian director as CEO of its new Cyber Security Growth Centre.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Commonwealth government has launched its new Cyber Security Growth Centre in Melbourne on Monday, and announced the appointment of Craig Davies, head of security for Australian startup darling Atlassian, as its CEO.

Davies will officially take up the role of chief in early 2017, joining former senior vice president and group executive for IBM Doug Elix and Data61 CEO Adrian Turner, who were appointed as joint chairs for the centre in April.

The centre will operate as a not-for-profit company and will be known as the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network Ltd when it officially begins in early 2017.

With the global cybersecurity market worth $74.5 billion in 2015, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Greg Hunt said the industry-led centre will be responsible for driving the development of a "vibrant and globally competitive" cybersecurity industry in Australia, as well as ensuring Australian businesses can take advantage of the growing market opportunity in cybersecurity.

"It will bring together industry, researchers, and governments to create a national enterprise that will provide the foundation for the development of next generation products and services needed to live and work securely in our increasingly connected world," Hunt said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull initially pledged AU$30 million through to 2019-20 in December 2015 as part of the government's AU$1.1 billion National Science and Innovation Agenda to establish the centre in a bid to grow and strengthen Australia's cybersecurity industry.

Turnbull expects the growth centre will work closely with industry sectors across Australia to build the quantity and professionalism of the nation's cybersecurity workforce to become globally competitive and respected.

Turnbull then launched the country's cybersecurity strategy in April, which is aimed at defending the nation's cyber networks from organised criminals and state-sponsored attackers, and sits alongside the AU$400 million provided in the Defence White Paper for cyber activities.

Speaking at the inaugural SINET61 conference in September, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security Alastair MacGibbon said Turnbull's 33 cyber-based initiatives were "ambitious".

Pointing to the establishment of the Cyber Security Growth Centre, MacGibbon said the strategy contains some great examples of how to grow businesses and help innovation flourish.

"The idea behind that centre is not just conversation, not just bringing people together -- that only goes so far -- it's actually to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. It's actually to invest money into those connections, into that development of IP, into the commercialisation of those great ideas, and into the export of those ideas because that's where we'll start making a difference," MacGibbon said.

"I think the growth centre is potentially one of the great keys that is in the cybersecurity strategy ... and I think gives it the most chance of not just surviving but thriving."

Last month, the government announced it would be launching Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence in the hope of improving Australia's cybersecurity through education and research.

For a cost of AU$4.5 million, the government expects the centres will help address Australia's shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals.

At the time, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security Dan Tehan said the centres will produce work-ready graduates to increase Australia's cybersecurity workforce and "world-leading" research on cybersecurity, as well as providing executive education programs for both industry and government.

Dr Tobias Feakin was also recently appointed as Australia's first ambassador for cyber affairs, charged with the role of supporting cyber capacity building in the region, advocating against state censorship of the internet, and promoting Australia's view that opportunities provided by the internet should be available to all people.

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