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The Australian federal government has appointed the nation’s first cyber security coordinator as part of its efforts to make Australia the most cyber secure nation in the world.
The appointment of Air Vice-Marshal Darren Goldie was signed off by the federal cabinet on Tuesday (20 June). The newly appointed coordinator will be part of Home Affairs and have the backing of a National Office for Cyber Security within the department.
Goldie joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1993, and in April last year, assumed the role of Air Commander Australia.
His new role as cyber security coordinator will see him gain responsibility for coordinating cyber response across government departments.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said that the appointment of Goldie is a “vital component” of the government’s response to the emerging challenge that cyber security and threat actors present as technology develops.
“The coordinator, together with the national office of cyber security within the office of Home Affairs, will ensure that we are well-positioned to respond to the opportunities but also the challenges that are there in this digital age,” Albanese said.
“In this role, Air Marshal Goldie will support the minister of cyber security to lead the coordination of national cyber security policy, responses to major cyber incidents, work of whole of government cyber incident preparedness efforts and, of course, strengthening commonwealth cyber security capability.”
Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security Clare O’Neil said that the former government left the state of cyber security in Australia an “absolute mess” and that the appointment of a cyber security coordinator is a crucial part of the “jigsaw puzzle” that is taking control of the current cyber climate.
“[Goldie] will drive the work across government in cyber security with force and velocity that is needed to meet what is a very substantial and seriously growing challenge for our nation,” Minister O’Neil said.
The appointment of a cyber security coordinator has been discussed for months now, with Minister O’Neil consistent in the opinion that cyber security needs to be coordinated and centralised within the government.
“It’s absolutely essential that we better coordinate the work that is happening within government; we have a whole range of government departments that are doing really important work … the problem is that at the moment they’re all rolling in different directions,” she said in February.
The push to better secure Australia against cyber threats comes after a number of high-profile cyber attacks on Australian organisations, with millions of people affected.
Last year saw both Optus and Medibank hit by multimillion-dollar ransomware attacks that affected 11 million and 9.7 million individuals, respectively, while Latitude Financial was hit early this year, affecting an additional 7.9 million.
Since then, several supply chain attacks have potentially compromised government agencies at both state and federal levels, with the recent HWL Ebsworth hack affecting the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, among others.
Shadow cyber security minister James Paterson has said that a cyber security coordinator should have been appointed months ago before the HWL Ebsworth attack and that the new role will need to begin clean-up immediately.
“The coordinator’s first task must be to get to the bottom of what government data has been lost in this attack and be transparent with the public about it, given the Albanese government’s failure to do so,” Paterson said.
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