Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard officially announced here on Thursday that a new Australian Cyber Security Center (ACSC) will be established in Canberra to boost the country's ability against cyber-attacks.
By drawing on the skills of the nation's best cyber security experts, the ACSC will help ensure Australian networks are among the hardest to compromise in the world, the prime minister said.
In her national security strategy speech on Wednesday, Gillard listed cyber security as one of the major threats Australia has to face in the new era.
Around 73 percent of Australians use the internet more than once a day. Australians' use of cyberspace is estimated to be worth 50 billion Australian dollars (52.5 billion US dollars), with the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) only expected to accelerate these changes.
The 35.9 billion Australian dollar ($37.7 billion) NBN project aims to provide access to fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) technology to 93 percent of Australian homes, schools and businesses.
"Cyberspace is increasingly a strategic asset for Australia," said Gillard.
She then noted that Australia's cyberspace is subject to threats.
In 2011-12, there were more than 400 cyber incidents against government systems requiring a significant response by the Cyber Security Operations Centre. In 2012, 5.4 million Australians fell victim to cyber crime with an estimated cost to the economy of 1. 65 billion dollars ($1.73 billion).
"Securing and protecting our networks, and ensuring confidence in the online environment, is pivotal to Australia's economy," said the prime minister.
According to Gillard, the ACSC will be responsible for analysing the nature and extent of cyber threats, leading the government's response to cyber incidents. It will work closely with critical infrastructure sectors and key industry partners to protect Australia's most valuable networks and systems. It will also provide advice and support to develop preventative strategies to counter cyber threats.
The ACSC will be the hub of the government's cyber security efforts. It will include, in one place, cyber security operational capabilities from the Defence Signals Directorate, Defence Intelligence Organisation, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Attorney-General's Department's Computer Emergency Response Team Australia, Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime Commission.
Establishment of the ACSC will begin immediately and is expected to be fully operational by late 2013.