Australian government reviews cybersecurity

Over five years since the last review, the Australian government has announced a new wide-ranging review into cybersecurity.

The Australian government is launching its first review into cybersecurity since 2008.

At the opening of the new Australian Cyber Security Centre in Canberra on Thursday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that a new wide-ranging Cyber Security Review will be conducted by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet with a panel of experts.

The panel includes Jennifer Westacott, the CEO of the Business Council of Australia; John Stewart, the chief security officer for Cisco; Mike Burgess, Telstra's chief information security officer; and Tobias Feakin, the director of the International Cyber Policy Centre at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Abbott said the review will look at how to improve national security and the security of online transactions; assess the risk of cyber attacks; examine how the government can work with industry to reduce cyber attacks; and assess how government protects networks and information.

The prime minister said that in the last year, the Australian Signals Directorate responded to 940 "cyber incidents" involving government agencies, a 37 percent increase on the previous year, and that the cost of cybercrime in Australia is estimated at over AU$1 billion.

The review has long been called for, after the then-Labor government abandoned its plans for a cybersecurity review in 2012.

Australia's largest bank, Commonwealth Bank, called for the review earlier this year in its response to the government's financial system inquiry . The bank said at the time that there should be a focus on the private-public sector cooperation.

Commonwealth Bank's general manager for cybersecurity and privacy, Ben Heyes, told ZDNet on Thursday that the review is a good start.

"This is great news; it is fantastic to see the government recognise this as being a key issue and commence this process to do this review," he said.

"The financial system is reasonably secure, but if you look at what has happened in the last few years between the last time the strategy was looked at and today, what we have seen is an ongoing increase in the cyberthreat from nation states, criminal groups, and politically motivated hacktivists."

He said that there has also been increased reporting on government surveillance that has impacted trust in using online services. Heyes said that the commonwealth would look to talk to government about public and private information sharing, "cybercrisis" planning, and improving "cyberliteracy" of the public.

"To ensure we've got a citizenship that understands how to stay safe online, how to engage in the digital economy that is informed on cyberthreats, and also a workforce."

The government already has a Cyber Security Operations Centre operated by the Department of Defence, and the government has previously admitted that 95 percent of staff in the new centre will come from Defence.

The distinction between the two centres, as explained last year, was that there would be a "layered" approach to security to allow industry into the Australian Cyber Security Centre to work in partnership with the government.

On Wednesday, Justice Minister Michael Keenan announced the establishment of ACORN , a new centre for Australians to report incidents of cybercrime and have those reports forwarded on to the relevant law-enforcement agency.