UK, Australia enter 'cyber partnership'

Australia and the United Kingdom will establish a "cyber partnership" to combat online security threats, the Department of Defence announced yesterday.

Australia and the United Kingdom will establish a "cyber partnership" to combat online security threats, the Department of Defence announced yesterday.

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(Power to the people image by Adrian Boliston, CC2.0)

The high-level plan was inked at the third Australia-United Kingdom Ministerial (AUKMIN) talks held yesterday in Sydney between Australia's Defence Minister Stephen Smith, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

The Department of Defence said the plan will build on "existing joint work" between the UK and Australia and develop a "shared vision for the future security of cyberspace".

"We will work together to advance this vision and to contribute to the development of international norms for cyberspace," the department said.

Cyberspace posed a threat to the countries' "shared strategic interests", according to the department.

"Cyber intrusions are an increasing challenge for the security of systems and networks of national importance. Australia and the UK are already working closely together to confront the growing threats we face to our cybersecurity, and it is vital to our wider, shared security and defence interests that we do so.

"Australia and the UK will coordinate our diplomatic, defence and security efforts to that end. We will continue to deepen our collaboration across a range of activities and between the agencies and departments that are responsible for delivering cybersecurity."

Those agencies include the Department of Defence and the Federal Attorney-General's Department, which together are responsible for issuing IT security alerts, collating information on the nations' critical infrastructure vulnerable to network-based attacks and building Australia's IT-based military capabilities.

Measures in the partnership would include secondments and postings in each others' countries, the agreement said.

In previous high-level discussions, UK Minister of Armed Forces Nick Harvey pushed for the creation of an offensive cybersecurity capability, while Smith said Australia is focused on building defensive systems.

Harvey, who reports to Fox, said strategies for conventional war can be reworked and retrofitted to a cyber theatre and need to be researched.

The ministers also spoke of the need to introduce peaceful space arms control measures in line with the United States National Space Policy released last year.

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