The cyber threat will grow and change over the years to 2030, creating new dangers, but also new opportunities for us to tackle it.
By 2030, the number of devices connected to the internet may double, to 30 billion. Imagine a world where we are surrounding by digital devices, more efficiently running our households and continuously collecting data. The implications for cyber are massive, and obvious.
It is the fastest evolving national security challenge we face. It is also a bloody big opportunity.
Machine learning and AI will transform the cyber threat, but also create new, powerful forms of cyber protection.
Australia faces the most challenging geostrategic circumstances since World War II. Cyber will be integral to how those circumstances unfold.
In short, cybersecurity is the fastest evolving national security challenge we face. It is also a bloody big opportunity.
The global cybersecurity industry is massive, and growing like topsy. If we play it right, we can use the challenge we face to create well-paid jobs and cyber products we can sell around the world.
We arrived in office having already declared cybersecurity would be a priority. We are the first federal government to have a cabinet minister for cybersecurity. Our work has been driven through two main tracks.
First, in the past year we’ve implemented 10 significant reforms that were obvious and urgent – including building a cyber incident response function in the Australian government and constructing Hack the Hackers, a collaboration between the Australian Signals Directorate and the Australian Federal Police.
We’ve applied special cyber protections to the most important pieces of Australian infrastructure, and reformed the Privacy Act to encourage protection of citizen data.
While this has been going on, we’ve been hard at work on our second track: building a new National Cyber Security Strategy for Australia.
What I have heard loud and clear is that to defeat the cyber challenge, government needs to be at the table as a partner and a leader, using every lever of national power to help keep our citizens and businesses safe.
Over the last year, our citizens and businesses have told us they feel vulnerable and alone in tackling the challenge. Our government’s strategy will seek to change that. Our goal is to build a backbone to support the actions and commitments of everyone involved – every citizen, business and organisation – so that when we act to improve cybersecurity, the whole country benefits.
In short: co-ordinated national action to make the whole more protective than the sum of the parts.
Our strategy is to build six Cyber Shields around Australia, each designed to layer strong protections around our businesses, organisations and citizens.
The first shield is strong citizens and business: a small-business community and a citizenry that understand the power they have to protect themselves, and can recover better from cyber events.
Our second shield is safe technology. Just as you cannot buy an unsafe car from a car yard, by 2030, we want digital products to be safe for use before they hit the shelves.
Our third shield is world class threat sharing and blocking. By 2030, we see a world where threat intelligence can be exchanged in real-time, at machine speed – and, where possible, threats blocked before they cause significant harm.
Our fourth cyber shield will help build reliable services, protecting critical infrastructure, such as water, energy and healthcare, that Australians rely on.
Our fifth cyber shield is sovereign capabilities. By 2030, we want Australia to have a world-leading cyber workforce that supports our brilliant innovators to compete globally and win.
And finally, our sixth shield is a resilient region: cyber threats are genuinely global, and we can do more if we are strategic about our actions globally, and work in partnership with our neighbours.
Success in these initiatives is not a world without cyberattacks. No government can promise that. But we do want to build a world where Australians can trust the digital environment. Indeed, this is essential for our future prosperity. And a world in which citizens and business are protected by those in our economy with the power to reshape this problem for the nation.
We have a lot of work to do, there is no question about that. But we will get this done, by working together, unified by a shared national imperative: to make Australia a world-leading cybersecurity nation by 2030.
Clare O’Neil is Minister for Home Affairs and the Minister for Cyber Security. She will deliver the opening keynote address at Monday’s The Australian Financial Review Cyber Summit in Sydney.