The Australian government is ready to launch pre-emptive cyber attacks

Picture: Mr Robot/USA Network

The Turnbull government is set to launch a new $230 million national cyber security program this morning, Australia’s first big update since 2009.

As first shown in an early leak, obtained by iTnews, the strategy will consist of five key pillars: strengthening cyber defences, education, partnerships, research and development, and global awareness.

The country’s existing Australian Cyber Security Centre will also be moved from the ASIO headquarters in Canberra to an undisclosed location for easier access to businesses.

Also new is that for the first time, the program will give the government the ability to launch pre-emptive cyber attacks against hacker “safe havens”. The government will work with allies to shut these safe havens down before they get a chance to strike as part of a global initiative.

The program will act as both a reassurance for overseas investors, but also a safeguard for Australia’s domestic internet economy, which accounts for 7.3% of the total economic output.

Businesses will have direct access and support from the security centre and will be encouraged to work with the government to develop stronger security systems. Small businesses will also be able to apply for funds to get their security systems tested.

The government will also be creating an “online cyber threat sharing portal” for all businesses to share and collaborate on threats.

Creating jobs will be a major pillar, with education a big part of that. The government is acknowledging there is a cyber security skills crisis and plans to establish “academic centres of excellence” at universities to increase the quality of IT security workers in Australia. The federal government also wants to partner with both state governments and the private sector to create cyber security apprenticeships within TAFEs.

Other big changes include a new public awareness campaign, similar to that of the “Slip Slop Slap” sun cancer campaigns. Basics such as not clicking on strange links, protection against malware and what to do in the event of ransomware will all be covered.

Former AFP officer, Alastair Macgibbon has been appointed as Malcolm Turnbull’s special advisor on cyber security. A new ministerial role is also being created, as will a new cyber ambassador that will work alongside foreign minister Julie Bishop.