Industry groups split over 2020 Cyber Strategy

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Monday, 10 August, 2020

Industry groups split over 2020 Cyber Strategy

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) has thrown its support behind the federal government’s newly announced 2020 Cyber Security Strategy.

The $1.67bn commitment, announced on Thursday, will add support and resources essential to securing Australia’s technology infrastructure, the ACS said.

According to ACS President Dr Ian Oppermann, the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the key role the ICT profession plays in keeping the Australian economy running.

“Promoting greater collaboration to build Australia’s cyber skills pipeline is an important aspect of the strategy, with the 2019 ACS Digital Pulse reporting a shortfall of over 100,000 skilled IT workers by 2024,” he said.

“The recognition that this responsibility goes beyond governments and includes business, industry and the community is also welcomed, particularly the emphasis on raising community awareness towards online threats and educating small to medium business on mitigating risks to their operations.”

But the Australian Information Security Association (AISA) had a more muted reaction, questioning whether the $1.67 billion funding commitment — which includes only $320 million to address industry and community challenges — is enough.

“Given the size of the potential financial impact at $29 billion a year, there are reasonable questions that may be asked as to whether $1.67 billion worth of funding over 10 years that is allocated for the 2020 Strategy is commensurate to the problem,” AISA Chair Damien Manuel said.

The AISA also expressed concern over the government’s proposal to expand the definition of critical infrastructure and impose new obligations on those telecommunications related sectors covered.

“We do need greater clarity in relation to whether the new obligations are reasonable and whether the government will attempt to stretch the definition of a critical sector to be able to impose the obligations on a wider group of businesses,” Manuel said.

“[But] broadly speaking, the 2020 Strategy aligns with the AISA submission into the Strategy development process, which will please our members nationwide who we surveyed extensively for its preparation,” he added.

One exception is the absence of the AISA’s recommendation that the government introduce tax breaks or other financial encouragements for businesses to improve their security posture.

“AISA believes that offering a carrot will be far more beneficial than wielding a stick when it comes to ensuring industry plays a more proactive part in their own cyber defence,” Manuel said.

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