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Australia’s Defence Strategic Review calls for increased cyber capacity

Australia’s Defence Strategic Review 2023 has been released today (24 April), and among the many recommendations from the report are calls to boost the country’s cyber capabilities.

user icon David Hollingworth
Mon, 24 Apr 2023
Australia’s Defence Strategic Review calls for increased cyber capacity
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“Australia’s cyber and information operations capabilities must be scaled up and optimised,” the report said while noting that the Australian Signals Directorate’s project REDSPICE is already “significantly expanding” its cyber and signals capacity.

However, there is a need for “responsiveness and breadth of capability” to support the Australian Defence Force and its operations. To this end, the report calls for three areas of focus:

  • Integrating the management and defence of the ADF’s command networks
  • Developing a coherent and centralised cyber development and management framework
  • Building up and training the ADF’s cyber workforce

As part of a wider overview of the ADF’s technological needs, the review also calls for the acceleration of research and innovation and greater co-operation with industry and research bodies, including universities.

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The review recommends the formation of an Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator to act as the “missing link between Defence and innovative Australian companies beyond the Defence primes”. This must exist outside of the ADF, the report noted.

The report also found that information and communications technology is a vital component of modern warfighting, though, at the moment, the ADF is vastly understaffed.

“For one of the most complex ICT networks in Australia, Chief Information Officer Group (CIOG) has a smaller leadership team than Services Australia or the Australian Tax Office, which have much smaller ICT footprints and classified network architecture,” the report said.

Contractors are too heavily relied upon, and there is insufficient staff to monitor them, the report noted. The report calls for closer collaboration between the ADF and the ASD, and a rebalancing of the ratio of staff to contractors for both the public service and the ADF. Similarly, the CIOG should be expanded, while legacy systems should be decommissioned.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese addressed the media following the DSR’s release.

“We must build strength in our security by seeking to shape the future rather than waiting for the future to shape us,” Albanese said today.

“That’s just as true for defence capability as it is for energy security, cyber security and, indeed, our economic security.

“And that’s why the work we’re undertaking as a result of this review fits together with everything that our government is doing to repair our supply chains, upgrade our energy grid, boost our cyber security systems and rebuild faith in our public institutions.”

You can find the full public version of the report here. The full report was delivered to the government in February 2022.

For more coverage on the release of the Defence Strategic Review, check out our stablemate, Defence Connect.

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.

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