Australia depending on vulnerable 'cyber' environment: DSTO

Internet security is top of the agenda in the development of a new framework for Australia's national security and technology policy.

A consultation paper released last week by the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), has called on national stakeholders to contribute to the development of a new security and technology policy framework.

Cyber security is one of the primary areas of focus in the paper, with the government indicating it will initially focus on establishing a national Cyber Security Science and Technology program to support the monitoring, management and protection of the country's cyber enabled enterprise.

"Cyber security is a national security priority. Australia is dependent on an increasingly vulnerable cyber environment. Cyber is advanced and shaped by technology," the paper said.

The paper also said that the new policy would articulate the strategic direction for national security science and technology over the next decade, and provide the mechanisms to deliver a coordinated national security science and technology program.

"The program will support the monitoring, management and protection of Australia's cyber enabled enterprise." it said.

"It will focus on aiding, enhancing and future-proofing the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) capability; advanced tools and techniques particularly for ACSC transition of technology and processes to national networks; and establishing national S&T workforce and skills that are relevant and responsive to operational cyber security needs."

The new policy is expected to incorporate much of 2009's National Security Science and Innovation Strategy, but provide a greater focus on online security, stronger defence, improvement of foreign affairs and countering terrorism and organised crime.

A number of complex national security problems faced Australia over the next decade, the paper said, which would demand that the ratio of research focused on national security would be increased from both the public and private sectors.

The call for stakeholder input follows a survey that DSTO conducted in 2013 to better understand the nature and extent of challenges being faced by national security user agencies, and science and technology providers in providing and sourcing support.

According to the paper, there is no current national, strategic and coordinated approach to planning and funding science and technology to support national security in "the most efficient manner".

The move to develop the new policy framework follows the previous Labor Government’s launch in early 2013 of its cyber security strategy, Strong and Secure: A Strategy for Australia’s National Security.

The new framework will also cover a number of other national security problems expected to face the country over the next five to 10 years, which will warrant sustained science and technology support and resources from public and private sectors.

According to the paper, these problems include: "harmful cyber activity; proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; ready availability of new technology to malicious actors such as 3D printing, bioengineering and advances in material sciences."

The DSTO is responsible for leading and coordinating national security science and technology, a role transferred from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to the Department of Defence in February 2012.

The DSTO will receive submissions until the beginning of May.