Labor has called on the Turnbull government to issue advice to ministers and government employees on the use of communication apps and cyber security.
Shadow Minister for Cyber Security Gai Brodtmann said in a statement on Sunday that politicians and senators need “clear guidelines from government security agencies on cyber security, including the appropriate use of communication apps such as WhatsApp”.
The call comes just days after a freedom of information request lodged by AAP sought copies of reports or correspondence from the government’s top cyber-security adviser, Alastair MacGibbon, since his appointment, about apps which he regards as legitimate and safe to be used.
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet replied: “No relevant documents were found in the department.”
Ms Brodtmann said: “Freedom of Information requests reveal that, despite concerns about communication apps, the Turnbull Government still hasn’t sought advice from the Prime Minister’s Cyber Security Special Adviser on their appropriate use”.
Two of the three government agencies covered in a cyber security audit had insufficient protection against attacks, according to a National Audit Office report tabled in Parliament last week, she added.
The DPMC previously told AAP the Australian Signals Directorate was responsible for “promulgating the standards which govern the security of government ICT systems through the Information Security Manual”.
The manual says all agencies “must assess and document the risks of using mobile devices” and should not use “paging, multimedia message service, SMS or instant messaging” to communicate sensitive or classified information.
A spate of fake Facebook accounts set up by online scammers for federal MPs prompted the government to call in the social media giant while politicians were briefed internally on cyber security, News Corp reported on Sunday.
Ms Brodtmann said she welcomed the news but that the government needs to take its own advice on cyber security.
“The Prime Minister has said all Australians need to take cyber security seriously, but is ignoring his own advice. And so are his government agencies,” she said.