About our cyber security hub

One of the major cyber security problems that Australia and its allies contend with is the large volume of attacks on government and industry. Especially across the whole Critical Infrastructure (CI) of Australia and Systems of National Interest (SNI). The CI and SNI sectors underpin Australia's:

  • banking and finance
  • defence
  • communications
  • energy
  • resources
  • transport
  • water.

The WannaCry ransomware campaign

While some attacks are targeted and of high value, the trend across the board is one of uncontained growth in threat level, and exponential growth in economic cost. These national problems were brought into stark focus in May of 2017 during the WannaCry ransomware campaign.  The attack affected an estimated 200,000 computers worldwide by encrypting them and demanding a payment in cryptocurrency.  In the UK, the National Health Service alone had 70,000 devices affected including MRI scanners, blood-storage refrigerators and theatre equipment.  An estimate puts the world-wide economic cost of WannaCry at $4 billion. This raised questions, such as:

  • WannaCry’s spread was halted due to a programming limitation, but what would have happened if that limitation did not exist?
  • What if WannaCry had targeted Australian Systems of National Interest?
  • Most importantly, how will Australia defend against the next, more sophisticated version of WannaCry?
  • How will we deal with issues of cyber intelligence and the human interpretation of the threat that this intelligence conveys?
  • How will we respond under attack?  How do our National Security policies support the implementation of appropriate solutions?
  • What about the legal issues that we contend with as we deal with cyber crime, cyber terrorism and ‘simple’ information security?

Our focus

We focus on teaching, training, research and practice in this specialised field given National need for 18000 more cyber security workers in Australia by 2026!

Our research fulfils the Federal Science in Government national research priority of ‘Position Australia as a leader in cutting edge cyber security research and innovation to safeguard Australia’s security, enhance resilience and enable economic growth.'

We meet two practical challenges listed in the above reference by the federal Government:

  1. “New technologies and approaches to support the nation’s cyber security: discovery and understanding of vulnerabilities, threats and their impacts, enabling improved risk-based decision making, resilience and effective responses to cyber intrusions and attacks.
  2. Understanding the scale of the cyber security challenge for Australia, including the social factors informing individuals, organisations, and national attitudes towards cyber security.”

We offer at least four opportunities as specified in the same reference:

  • “identifying  specific cyber security research areas that will deliver a comparative and  competitive advantage for Australian cyber security R&D
  • strengthening  partnerships between research institutions, governments and industry to scale  current efforts, leverage shared ideas, target research towards key emerging  challenges, and guide R&D towards strategic outcomes
  • linking cyber  security R&D with commercialisation expertise
  • building depth and  expertise in Australia’s cyber security skills pipeline by connecting STEM  education, research and job opportunities”