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Big gaps in Australia’s cyber defences

July 26, 2011


Australia has not plugged all the gaps in its online defences despite the threats posed by the rapid rise of cyber espionage and “hacktivism”, a government-commissioned report has found.

The report discusses the results of cyber war games called Cyber Storm, involving Australia and 12 other countries last year, which simulated a large-scale international cyber security incident.

Citing “gaps” in the cyber security procedures of both government and Australian industry, the report’s author, former army intelligence officer Miles Jakeman, noted that there were areas where “communications and planning could be further developed”.

The gaps were acknowledged by the federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, during a speech at a cyber security conference in Canberra yesterday.

“[The report] did highlight gaps within existing government and business cyber incident processes … this feedback allows both government and businesses to take steps to improve our cyber security,” he said.

The report is further evidence that the Australian government’s efforts to confront the cyber threat are being outmatched by the efforts of the hackers.

This year, a foreign state, widely believed to be China, hacked into the Australian parliamentary email system and stole thousands of confidential messages.

After that, the same attackers used information gleaned from those emails to compromise protected Commonwealth systems further. The government has refused to discuss the matter but it is being investigated.

Saying cyber attacks were “becoming increasingly more sophisticated and targeted”, Mr McClelland warned against complacency.

“The community should not underestimate the scale of the issue we’re facing here. The cyber threat to Australia is real, evolving and a growing test of our defences.”

Last year’s Cyber Storm was the the third time the war games have been run since 2006, and involved Australia, the US, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and eight other countries.

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