​Government launches first of AU$47m Joint Cyber Security Centres in Brisbane

The Australian government has launched its first of five Joint Cyber Security Centres which will see industry, government, and law enforcement work together to develop new approaches to cybersecurity.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

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.

Speaking at the centre launch on Friday, Attorney-General George Brandis said securing Australia's cyberspace is not something the government can do alone.

"Cybersecurity is both a key to national security and a priority for the Australian government. It is also an important challenge for business. With the incidence of malicious cyber activity continuing to rise, it is more important than ever that government and business work together to improve the capability and to better coordinate our cybersecurity," Brandis said.

"Strong cybersecurity is not only critical to our national security, it is also essential to Australia's economic growth and prosperity. Strong cybersecurity across government and industry will ensure that Australia continues to be regarded as a trusted place to do business."

Led by CERT Australia -- which falls under the remit of the Attorney-General's Department -- the Brisbane centre includes representatives from Australian and Queensland government agencies, law enforcement, and critical infrastructure owners and operators.

The government expects centre representatives will conduct a broad range of joint activities, including data analytics, targeted training, workshops, and threat mapping. Work is also underway on an information sharing portal that will broaden the reach of the centres, the government said.

The Brisbane centre was originally slated to open last year.

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. Based in Melbourne, the centre now operates as a not-for-profit company under the new name of the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network Ltd.

The cybersecurity growth network led by Craig Davies, former head of security for Australian startup darling Atlassian, is 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.

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 that 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.

Earlier this week, the Australian government announced it would be giving AU$1.9 million to universities that deliver specialised cybersecurity training in a bid to combat the skills shortage in cyber-related fields.

"Cybersecurity skills are fundamental to the success and growth of Australia's digital economy, but like many other nations, Australia is suffering from a skills shortage in this field," Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Cyber Security Dan Tehan said in a statement on Wednesday.

Under the program, universities can apply to be recognised as Academic Centres of Cyber Security.

The government hopes the funding injection will help attract more Australians to cybersecurity jobs and increase the number of skilled graduates needed to help protect businesses and government from emerging threats.

The government originally announced in November that it would be launching the AU$4.5 million Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence in the hope of improving Australia's cybersecurity through education and research.

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