In January this year, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned all Australians to be concerned about the threat of a cyber-attack.

This came off the back of a number of heavily-publicised incidents, including, an unprecedented attack that affected high profile sites like Netflix, Twitter and PayPal, and closer to home, the now infamous #censusfail debacle that a government review found was the result of four Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

These attacks, considered to be avoidable, caused a 40-hour outage of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ website during the Census period and a never-before-seen prevalence of the term ‘DDoS’ in mainstream media. In 2016, everyday Australians, businesses and the government woke up to the imminent threat of cybercrime and the potential it has to impact our economy, our safety and our way of life.

A little over a year ago the Prime Minister launched the Federal Government’s Cyber Security Strategy. The Strategy sets out the Government’s plan to improve Australia’s cyber security – enabling innovation, growth and prosperity and establishes five themes of action for Australia’s cyber security over four years. These themes are around a national cyber partnership, strong cyber defences, global responsibility and influence, growth and innovation and a cyber smart nation. This is the first time an Australian Government has released a cyber security strategy and put real money behind it – to the tune of $230 million.

In another first, a Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Cyber Security was also appointed to oversee the Strategy’s implementation. Minister Dan Tehan has tackled this role head-on, determined to ensure the community is aware of the threat of cybercrime and working together to stare these criminals down. With a strong background in trade, small business and international affairs, Minister Tehan knows all too well how the Internet, and technology more generally, have brought about great opportunity for Australia’s prosperity. He is also acutely aware of the fact that with this opportunity comes newfound perils that must be overcome.

“There is nothing more important to our future prosperity than an open, free and secure internet,” Mr Tehan says.

“The majority of Australians use the internet every day, whether it be running their businesses, paying their bills or keeping in contact with friends, so we have to ensure their ability to do that remains intact.

“It is also vitally important for our national security as well – cyber espionage is alive and well, and cybercrime is growing and every day, people are looking to use malicious means to exploit the Internet.

“We have to make sure it is secure and people have confidence and trust in using this important mechanism safely.”

To read the rest of our interview with Minister Dan Tehan, download edition 11 of Behind the Dot magazine now.


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