by Maeve Bannister, AAP Canberra
Australia has appointed its first national cybersecurity coordinator who will be responsible for tackling one of the nation’s biggest security challenges.
Air Vice-Marshal Darren Goldie has been selected after a four-month search for potential candidates and will start in the role next month.
He will support Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil to lead coordination of national security policy, responses to major incidents and whole-of-government preparedness.
Ms O’Neil said a lack of coordination against cyber threats had left Australians at a disadvantage to attackers.
“There is a big conceptual shift we have to make with cyber security (because) in the past we have seen national security matters as principally the concern of government,” she told reporters.
“One of the reasons cyber is a really significant and different challenge is that it has to be a partnership approach.
“One of the most important things that Air Marshal Goldie will be doing is working with companies who are under attack and working with citizens to manage cyber incidents.”
Ms O’Neil said the goal of the new appointment couldn’t be to eradicate cyber attacks in a digital age, but rather to make sure Australia was able to respond quickly and limit the risk of them happening.
Asked why the government had not appointed a cybersecurity expert, Ms O’Neil said the senior commander had previously been responsible for security in the air force.
“Something that I don’t think is understood in this area is that a cyber incident response is not principally a technical problem, it is an operational problem,” she said.
“We are incredibly confident and very pleased that this commendable person, who has served his nation in uniform for so long, has agreed to take on this responsibility.”
Air Marshal Goldie joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1993 and has held several distinguished roles.
This includes a stint in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet where he provided strategic foreign policy advice.
Air Marshal Goldie said Australia faced a “dire” cyber security challenge.
“That challenge will continue to increase in its complexity and severity and I think we’re all invested in it together as a nation,” he said.
Opposition spokesman James Paterson said the coordinator’s first task should be to determine what data was breached in a recent cyber attack against law firm HWL Ebsworth.
The firm has clients at commercial and government levels in every state and territory, including some of the biggest banks.
Senator Paterson said Air Marshal Goldie must investigate the implications of the breach, how to mitigate them and the steps taken to inform and support impacted parties.