Critical technologies amid ‘increasing geostrategic uncertainty’: Karen Andrews | The Canberra Times | #government | #hacking | #cyberattack

news, federal-politics, critical technologies, karen andrews, the sydney dialogue, critical infrastructure, aspi, national security

Australian businesses will be expected to adopt new principles bolstering the security, transparency and integrity of critical technologies, including artificial intelligence and blockchain, as the federal government continues its cyber policy blitz. Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews is expected to stress the importance of the new principles in light of “increasing geostrategic uncertainty” in a closed panel on Thursday at the inaugural Sydney Dialogue event, organised by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Wednesday the trilateral AUKUS agreement signed in September with the UK and US would include information and technology sharing, offering “much more than nuclear submarines”. The principles will encourage businesses to understand security risks related to their supply chains, set minimum transparency requirements for supplier standards and international benchmarks as well as consider how ethical suppliers are in line with international laws and human rights. Ms Andrews said Australian businesses should adopt the principles to reduce risks brought on by Australia’s growing reliance on critical technologies. “As we emerge from the pandemic, Australia faces a range of threats from malicious cyber actors and increasing geostrategic uncertainty,” she said in comments to The Canberra Times ahead of her panel appearance. “We can’t allow our growing reliance on a few critical technologies – that can be hacked, held to ransom, or otherwise disrupted – to become a major strategic vulnerability for the nation. “That’s why these principles are so important; businesses that adopt them will be able to assure themselves, their customers, and their shareholders that the supply chains they use are secure and align with Australian values.” READ MORE: The federal government has been pushing for changes to security legislation to expand the definition of critical infrastructure in response to an increase in cyber threats. Critical supply chains have been targeted by rogue ransomware gangs and malicious state actors in recent years, with one drinks manufacturer’s deliveries being halted temporarily following an attack during the COVID-19 pandemic. Critical infrastructure amendments are expected to be considered by the Senate during the next sitting period in late November. If passed, the proposed changes would allow the government to intervene in private companies who handle an expanded definition of Australia’s critical infrastructure systems, which would extend to energy, communications, transport, data and the cloud as well as food and medical supplies. The new powers would also compel companies to work with the government, including handing over commercially sensitive information, in the event of a major cyber attack and would be expected to take on directions or actions provided by the government’s cyber security agencies. In some cases, security agency officials could “step in” and take over a company’s systems in order to fight off an attack. The changes have been criticised by major tech companies, including Amazon, which have argued provide the government and the Home Affairs minister with “overly broad powers”. Ms Andrews last month flagged her intent to introduce new charges for hackers targeting critical infrastructure and mandatory reporting for companies experiencing ransomware attacks in an overhaul of the government’s cyber crime rules. “Ransomware gangs have attacked businesses, individuals and critical infrastructure right across the country,” she said. “Stealing and holding private and personal information for ransom costs victims time and money, interrupting lives and the operations of small businesses.” Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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