Australia to establish new cyber agency

In a response to the continuing high level threat, Australia is set to establish a second cyber security agency to coordinate the cyber security efforts across government.

The new agency will be called the National Office for Cyber Security and will sit in the department of Home Affairs. 

The government said it will also appoint a coordinator for cyber security to lead the new agency and coordinate its cyber security responsibilities. 

Australia already has the Australia Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) which leads the government’s efforts to improve cyber security and is part of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) – an agency in the defence portfolio.

“We’re serious about making Australia the most cyber-secure country in the world by 2030,” Clare O’Neil, minister for home affairs and cyber security, said. “That means we [are] appointing a new national coordinator to lead Australia’s cyber security responses to cyber-attacks.”

Current cyber security rules, government policies and regulations “are simply not at the level that we need them to be,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said during a meeting with industry leaders and experts.

“This is really fast moving. It’s a rapidly evolving threat, and for too many years Australia has been off the pace,” Albanese said. 

In December the Australian government published a discussion paper on a new cyber security strategy, which it aims to implement next year, and is seeking feedback on how businesses can improve their cyber security in partnership with the government.

Proposals currently on the table include a new Cyber Security Act, prohibiting businesses or insurers from making ransom payments, and creating a single portal for businesses to report cyber-attacks.