A new collaboration effort between the NSW Government, Standards Australia and AustCyber plans to improve the practice of cyber security across Australian businesses.
The collaboration has seen the creation of a new task force that is charged with accelerating the adoption of industry standards for cyber security across the country.
The task force is made up of a group of industry experts, including from the defence, energy, health and financial services sectors.
The task force’s primary focus areas, decided upon during its first meeting on 22 June, include harmonising baseline standards and providing clarity for sector-specific additional standards and guidance and enhancing competitiveness standards by sector for both supplier and consumers.
In addition to focusing on accelerating the adoption of industry standards for cyber security across the country, the task force will also focus on providing greater interoperability, supporting Australian cyber security companies to seize opportunities and go global and improving the practice of cyber security across Australian businesses.
According to AustCyber CEO Michelle Price, the work will provide a pilot for the rest of the country to enable rapid adoption of consistent, internationally harmonised cyber security standards and guidance.
“Cyber security is one of Australia's most promising growth sectors and importantly protects our digital infrastructure and data,” Price said.
“The economy’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has proven Australia can take leaps towards embedding digital technologies, but the quality of this digitisation and digitalisation along with its trustworthiness is now under immense pressure – and is obviously being targeted by malicious cyber actors.
"There is a risk underlying the speed of digital transformation in Australia, and the new standards will be critical in helping deliver a consistent, industry-focused framework for NSW. The newly established task force will help NSW businesses understand what they need to do to tackle the complex challenge of protecting against cyber attacks,” she added.
NSW state Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello suggested that the task force was a critical step in bolstering government’s cyber security defences and creating a strong cyber security ecosystem.
“We know that the current plethora of different security standards make it difficult for government and industry to know what they’re buying when it comes to cyber security,” Dominello said.
“By bringing together industry to identify relevant standards and provide other practical guidance, we aim to make government more secure, whilst providing direction for industry to build their cyber resilience.
“This will realise our ambition for NSW to become the leading cyber security hub in the Southern Hemisphere,” he added.
The move comes just days after Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed that a "sophisticated state-based actor" has been attempting to hack a wide range of Australian organisations for months and had stepped up its efforts recently.
The attacks have targeted all levels of the government, political organisations, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure, Morrison said in a media briefing in Canberra.
"We know it is a sophisticated state-based cyber actor because of the scale and nature of the targeting," Morrison said on 19 June.