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New Australian cyber security coordinator all but confirmed, according to sources

Australia’s next cyber security coordinator has been all but confirmed, after sources close to the matter told media that an Australian Army major general would be appointed to the position.

user icon Daniel Croft
Tue, 13 Feb 2024
New Australian cyber security coordinator all but confirmed, according to sources
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Major General Michelle McGuinness is set to fill the role of cyber security coordinator, two Defence sources, who were unable to speak on record, told Capital Brief.

The sources said that Home Affairs had settled on MAJGEN McGuinness to take up the role, but the federal cabinet has yet to confirm the appointment.

MAJGEN McGuinness will replace the country’s inaugural coordinator, Air Marshal Darren Goldie, who was recalled from the position for a “workplace matter”.

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AIRMSHL Goldie was recalled to Defence almost four months ago, with the Defence sources citing the reason for the delay in a new appointment as relating to the reason for his recall, a complaint made against him for his time as Royal Australian Air Force Air Commander.

While MAJGEN McGuinness has no qualifications or experience in cyber security, just like AIRMSHL Goldie, she has been the US Defence Intelligence Agency’s (DIA’s) deputy director for Commonwealth integration (DDCI) for three years, which saw her advising the director of the DIA on strengthening Five Eyes ties.

Prior to this, she was the Australian Defence Intelligence Organisation’s director general of counter proliferation and terrorism. She was due to return to Australia in recent weeks.

Home Affairs secretary Stephanie Foster said yesterday (12 February) that a new cyber security coordinator would be named “in the coming weeks”, responding to Senate estimates questioning by shadow cyber security minister James Paterson.

Foster said she had committed to Paterson in October last year to reduce the number of acting positions within Home Affairs. She added that acting roles have reduced from 39 to 26 and vacancies from 23 to 14.

“Two critical positions we are working hard to resolve quickly are the national cyber security coordinator and the associate secretary immigration,” she said, adding that a number of positions still needing filling would be filled within the “coming month”.

However, Foster refused to confirm that MAJGEN McGuinness would be AIRMSHL Goldie’s replacement.

“The process is not yet complete,” she said.

AIRMSHL Goldie was appointed as the first national cyber security coordinator in June last year. The position is responsible for leading Home Affairs’ National Office of Cyber Security (NOCS), which was launched in February.

As part of this, the coordinator and NOCS are responsible for responding to and reviewing cyber attacks, which AIRMSHL Goldie did most notably with the HWL Ebsworth breach, which hit a large number of major organisations and 62 government entities, including the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

The national cyber security coordinator last week released its “Lessons Learned Review” of the HWL Ebsworth breach, outlining what worked and what didn’t in its response to the attack.

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