​Australian Signals Directorate to get AU$75m facility upgrade

The intelligence agency responsible for signals intelligence will be receiving a AU$75 million upgrade to two of its facilities in the nation's capital.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The federal government has announced that the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) will be receiving critical infrastructure upgrades at two of its national security facilities in Canberra.

The AU$75 million upgrades to the intelligence agency will be funded under the Defence Integrated Investment Program, Minister for Defence Personnel Dan Tehan said on Thursday.

"The ASD is essential to Australia's national security and these improvements will help keep Australians safer by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of operations," Tehan said.

"The government is committed to returning Defence spending to 2 percent of GDP within a decade, delivering an additional AU$30 billion which will be invested in capability, infrastructure, and personnel."

The announcement comes after Tehan detailed in Parliament on Wednesday how Australia's cybersecurity defences were potentially put in jeopardy last month, when the Department of Defence was instructed by ActewAGL and the New South Wales environment department to assist with "load shedding".

The ASD was subsequently placed onto diesel generators on February 10, 2017 as a precaution, Tehan explained.

"It had concerns with the reliability of the grid. This meant that our agency responsible for critical infrastructure was on backup power to preempt a cut. Having the Department of Defence being put onto generators is a rare and significant event," he said.

"A lack of energy security is a direct threat to our national security. Energy security is equally critical to our cybersecurity capabilities and to the security of Australians. We must deal with this issue. We have to have a plan to deal with this challenge."

The Australian government launched its first Joint Cyber Security Centre in Brisbane on Friday, aiming to boost cybersecurity resilience in the country by bringing industry, government, and law enforcement together to share relevant threat information under the one roof.

The Brisbane centre is the first stage of the AU$47 million program that will also see similar centres established in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth.

The AU$47 million Joint Cyber Security Centre program was designed in partnership with industry and forms part of Australia's Cyber Security Strategy.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull 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.

The Australian government also launched its Cyber Security Growth Centre in December. The centre now operates as a not-for-profit company under the new name of the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network Ltd.

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.

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