PM says he wants Australia to “lead the world” in cyber security

Edited by Nelly Tawil

For the first time Australia has the ability to launch cyber attacks Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull admitted while unveiling Australia’s $240 million cyber security strategy, which will focus on closer collaboration with business.

The Prime Minister revealed offensive cyber capabilities are utilized to prevent possible attacks, which could mean the government employing hackers to disrupt activities overseas.

Securing the nation’s cyber networks from organized crime and state-sponsored aggressors is the central purpose of the strategy and sits alongside $400 million in the Defense White Paper for cyber activities.

The announcement follows an urgent call for an inquiry last year by independent senator Nick Xenophon following reports of a China-initiated breach at the Bureau of Meteorology.

Although there has yet to be what can be considered a serious cyber attack, one that compromises national security, there are thousands of intrusions every year.

“Now as your PM, my highest duty and that of my government is to keep Australians safe,” Mr. Turnbull said.

“It is no different in cyber space.

“Australians expect the government to protect them from cyber attack and defend our country against sophisticated, national security threats.”

The strategy includes boosting powers of the Australian Corruption and Crime Commission and Australian Federal Police, as well as the creation of more than 100 new specialist jobs.

Foreign minister Julie Bishop would appoint a cyber Ambassador as part of the plan, the Prime minister said.

Mr. Turnbull professed he wanted Australia to “lead the world” in cyber security.

“And we have the brains and the imagination to do so,” he said.

Mr Turnbull said the government would also attempt to employ cyber weapons in the fight against terrorism.

“It is important in healthy democracies to have debates about the balance between civil liberty and national security; few issues are more important,” he said.

“But in certain very specific circumstances government will wok with the private sector within agreed legal frameworks and appropriate oversight to fight serious online crime and extremism.

“And to thwart terrorists and others who see to hide their illegal activities online.”