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ASD set to embed cyber security hubs in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth

Amid criticism over the Australian Signals Directorates plan to double in size over the next decade, director-general Rachel Noble stated that the new hubs would allow the cyber spy agency to tap into a wider talent pool.

user icon Nastasha Tupas
Thu, 07 Apr 2022
ASD set to embed cyber security hubs in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth
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The ASD will create cyber security hubs in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth after receiving $9.9 billion in the federal budget to boost its offensive and defensive capabilities.

Speaking at the Senate estimates, director-general Noble outlined that the ASD is set to create cyber security hubs in three states, using REDSPICE budget funding to make employment opportunities accessible beyond the ACT.

At the moment, given our footprint is largely in Canberra, in order to be willing to join ASD, not only do you need to obtain a security clearance, but you also need to be willing to move to Canberra.

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REDSPICE [Resilience, Effects, Defence, Space, Intelligence, Cyber and Enablers] gives us an opportunity to offer people ongoing roles in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth, as well as Canberra.

So, in one respect, that will potentially remove a barrier that people might have to joining ASD,” Noble said.

This comes right after ASDs new cyber and foreign intelligence facility in Majura Park, Canberra, was opened last month.

The newly built facility is designed to house agents and personnel from the Australian Defence Force, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Home Affairs and representatives from industry. The facility is also tipped to create new employment opportunities for intelligence analysts, cyber operators, technology researchers and corporate enablers.

Acting deputy-director for corporate and capability Dale Furse explained to Senate estimates that while ASD is currently working to identify the hubs, these are expected to come online in the next three years.

We’re looking at finalising [hubs in Melbourne and Brisbane] and having them available in the financial year 2024-25, Furse said.

According to Furse, the bulk of new staff are expected to join by 2024, but Perth would precede the activity in Victoria and Queensland in 2023-24.

Even without the hubs, however, Noble is quite confident the ASD could add a further 1,900 staff to its books over the next decade, having grown by 330 staff last year when taking into account turnover.

The comments follow criticism from academics and Labor that ASD would struggle to double in size over the next decade given the countrys already stretched cyber security talent pool.

The cyber spy agency had received 9,000 applications for jobs in 2021, and that there were currently 700 people in the pipeline”, according to Noble, but applicants successful in securing employment with the ASD would have gone through a rigorous testing.

So, it is not ASD that seems to have an issue, in the way that other experts have so described, in attracting people with the right skills to join our organisation.

That is, they’ve passed the selection process, are deemed to have skills that we can utilise in ASD and are waiting to onboard and join our organisation, Noble said.

Noble also noted that while ASD would need cyber security specialists, not all of the 1,900 jobs being created would be in that field.

We’ll need data scientists, engineers, linguists, analytics, ICT people, but also policy people, HR people, psychologists, security, compliance, lawyers and people expert in comms.

“We need a vast array of different skills that will make up that 1,900 to deliver REDSPICE, Noble continued.

Following the federal governments announcement of a $9.9 billion investment in bolstering Australias cyber security and intelligence capabilities, the significant investment serves as an urgent call to action for Australian businesses to get serious about cyber security.

As Furse mentioned, the bulk of the staff to join ASD over the decade are expected to arrive between 2022-23 and 2023-24. Around 400 staff will join next financial year, followed by 600 in 2023-24, 500 in 2024-25 and 200 in 2025-26. The remaining 165 staff will come to ASD between 2026-27 and 2028-29.

With most staff to join over the next two years, ASD is aiming to triple its offensive cyber security capabilities in that time.

Given that offensive cyber ... is very reliant on the number of people that we have, what I expect is that by 2026-27 we probably will have reached the tripling, Noble concluded.

[Related: National data protection safeguards up for consultation under government action plan]

Nastasha Tupas

Nastasha Tupas

Nastasha is a Journalist at Momentum Media, she reports extensively across veterans affairs, cyber security and geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific. She is a co-author of a book titled The Stories Women Journalists Tell, published by Penguin Random House. Previously, she was a Content Producer at Verizon Media, a Digital Producer for Yahoo! and Channel 7, a Digital Journalist at Sky News Australia, as well as a Website Manager and Digital Producer at SBS Australia. Nastasha started her career in media as a Video Producer and Digital News Presenter at News Corp Australia.

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