​Turnbull announces annual Australia-US Cyber Security Dialogue

The federal government has announced an annual Australia-US Cyber Security Dialogue for the two countries to work together in tackling cybercrime.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor on

The Australian government has on Wednesday strengthened its cybersecurity ties with long term allies the United States, with Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announcing that the two nations will hold an annual Australia-US Cyber Security Dialogue he said builds on the already close cyber-cooperation both countries have.

The annual dialogue will be jointly convened by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the US Centre for Strategic and International Studies, and according to Turnbull, it will engage senior representatives from both countries' business, academic, and government sectors to discuss common cyber threats, promote cybersecurity innovation, and shape new business opportunities.

"We will continue to work closely together to ensure the internet remains open, free, and secure by promoting peacetime 'norms' for cyberspace," Turnbull said.

"Like the US, Australia supports a cyberspace in which nations abide by international law and their behaviour is supported by agreed norms -- or standards for appropriate conduct.

"Such standards will lead to practical confidence building measures that help to reduce the incidence of malicious cyber activity and the risk of conflict."

The Prime Minister said that Australia must be ready to respond to cyber incidents when and if they occur.

He said this means that Australians need to better understand how both countries would cooperate in the event of a significant cyber incident that would affect both Australia and the US.

"To achieve this, we agreed to improve our response efforts beginning with mapping our cyber incident response structures and mechanisms with the aim in the future to exercising our incident response measures," Turnbull said.

"To meet the growing threat of cybercrime, we will also enhance cybercrime cooperation between our nations, including through increased exchanges between respective law enforcement and cybercrime experts and more collaboration on cybercrime investigations."

Additionally, Turnbull said that both Australia and the US agreed to enhance the coordination of respective cyber capacity building efforts in the Indo-Pacific, to help the region increase its cybersecurity and its capacity to combat cybercrime.

In September, US president Barack Obama and China's President Xi Jinping established "a high-level joint dialogue mechanism on fighting cybercrime and related issues".

On behalf of their respective nations, Xi and Obama said they would also establish "a hotline for the escalation of issues that may arise" while responding to requests for cooperation in investigations of cyber incidents. The pair agreed to hold the first meeting of this joint dialogue before the end of 2015, and then twice a year.

"The United States and China agree that neither country's government will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors," the White House said.

"Both sides are committed to making common effort to further identify and promote appropriate norms of state behaviour in cyberspace within the international community."

In December, Turnbull pledged AU$30 million through to 2019-20 as part of its AU$1.1 billion National Science and Innovation Agenda to establish a new industry-led Cyber Security Growth Centre in a bid to grow and strengthen Australia's cybersecurity industry.

At the time, the government estimated that the global cybersecurity market was worth more than $71 billion and said it was growing at approximately 8 percent every year.

"A Cyber Security Growth Centre will ensure that Australia is a global industry leader, able to export products and services in the global marketplace while helping Australian businesses and governments to address the growing threat of cybercrime," the government said.

"The new Cyber Security Growth Centre will bring together industry, researchers, and governments to create a nation cybersecurity innovation network; develop a national strategy for Australia's cybersecurity industry to become a global leader and attract investment from multinationals; and coordinate cybersecurity research and innovation to reduce overlap and maximise impact."

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