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Holding the line: Australia prioritises cyber defence

ADF personnel and defence industry officials participate in the Australian Defence Force's Cyber Skills Challenge held in November 2023 in Canberra. (Commonwealth of Australia)

Australia has bolstered efforts to enhance cyber-defence capabilities to prevent and mitigate cyber attacks against critical infrastructure. For the Australian Defence Force (ADF), cyber defence is an integral part of a wider endeavour to strengthen military preparedness for modern hybrid warfare. The extensive use of cyberwarfare in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has provided an impetus to such ADF efforts.

Australia's Defence Strategic Review (DSR), released in April 2023, highlighted the need for the ADF to scale up cyber and information operations to counter growing “non-geographic security threats”, particularly cyber. “[The Australian Department of Defence (DoD)] must enhance its cyber domain capabilities to deliver the required responsiveness and breadth of capability to support ADF operations,” the DSR said.

The DSR added that the DoD needs to focus on integrating the defence of command, control, communications, and computers (C4) networks and architectures; delivering a coherent and, where possible, centralised cyber domain capability development and management function; and building and sustaining a trained cyber workforce.

In an interview with Janes in February, Major General Ana Duncan, head of the ADF's Cyber Warfare division, said, “In line with the government's response to the DSR, [the DoD] has prioritised developing a comprehensive framework for managing operations in the cyber domain, consistent with other domains.”

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