Moving cyber security centre from ASIO building creates opportunity: adviser

Relocating the federal government’s Australian Cyber Security Centre from the ASIO building to Canberra Airport will drive emergency preparedness and knowledge sharing, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s special adviser says.

Alastair MacGibbon, appointed by Mr Turnbull in 2016 and central to the government’s cyber security strategy roll out, said emergency responses and resilience in the private and public sectors was improving around Australia.

Cooperation needed: Alastair MacGibbon is special adviser on cyber security.
Cooperation needed: Alastair MacGibbon is special adviser on cyber security. Photo: Andrew Meares

Moving the centre from the strictly controlled ASIO building on Lake Burley Griffin to the lower security environment at Brindabella Park would allow easier access for people outside government and see more businesses cooperating with the public sector.

Mr MacGibbon will address the OceaniaCACS information technology conference in Canberra on Monday, discussing how government and businesses should cooperate on cyber security capability.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with special adviser Alastair Macgibbon.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with special adviser Alastair Macgibbon. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

“While government has a very strong interest in seeing safe and secure systems to run our critical infrastructure, our banking, all the things we do in our lives, it doesn’t own or operate the vast bulk of those systems,” he said.

“So the only way for cyber security to be achieved is for the private sector and government to operate together. It is very different from something like counter-terrorism, where government takes the lead and people expect it to.”

Mr MacGibbon said the government was working with vocational and tertiary institutions to help close the skills gap on cyber security, as well as advocating for better international security and helping fund non-profits and start ups.

You will now receive updates fromBreaking News Alert

Breaking News Alert

Get the latest news and updates emailed straight to your inbox.

“If we get this right, it’s not a negative. It actually becomes a social and economic liberaliser – in other words it helps unleash the potential of the economy,” he said.

Bringing together agencies and law enforcement through the government’s planned creation of a new Home Affairs Department and strengthening the Australian Signals Directorate as a stand-alone statutory authority would see improvements.

“This is both a pure national security issue, when we’re dealing with foreign states and their activities but it’s also a national security issue related to with the survival of our economy and society in the most broad sense.”

“As you can imagine there are some foreign states that are quite keen to be inside our systems from time to time,” Mr MacGibbon said.

Mike Trovato, appointed by New York State’s public service commission to assess critical infrastructure in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks, said businesses who were prepared to deal with unexpected events had remained robust.

“A number of the things that have been done here in Australia are quite good, including the Attorney-General’s portfolio engaging business to encourage resilience.

“That’s been an ongoing thing, definitely since 9/11. In some cases they’ve probably engaged the public sector in a more collaborative way than some other countries do.

“There exists an opportunity for a bigger role of the defence sector in helping protect critical infrastructure and I think some recent actions by the government to have that be part of the mission is really quite a good thing,” he said.

He said a “hidden game” existed for businesses and public sector organisations who were proactive and showed effective leadership.

“The work that is being done to encourage growth in innovation is laudable, although I think we have a significant gap to close with countries like the United States and Israel,” he said.