Earlier this year, Australia unveiled its 2022-23 federal budget, which shows a strong commitment to cybersecurity. The AU$9.9 billion ($6.8 billion) investment will be allocated and spent by the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) over the next 10 years through a new program called Resilience, Effects, Defense, Space, Intelligence, Cyber and Enablers (REDSPICE). In 2020, Australia pledged AU$1.35 billion to security agencies in a program called Cyber Enhanced Situational Awareness and Response (CESAR).
“REDSPICE ensures Australia keeps pace with the rapid growth of cyber capabilities of potential adversaries,” said Minister for Defence Peter Dutton in a joint media release. “It provides new intelligence capabilities, new cyber defenses to protect our most critical systems and is a real increase in the potency of ASD’s ability to strike back in cyberspace.”
REDSPICE blueprint lays out actionable plan
According to the REDSPICE Blueprint, the purpose of the initiative is to build on Australia’s strong cybersecurity foundation by expanding the range and sophistication of the country’s intelligence and offensive and defensive cyber capabilities. The strategic objectives of the programs are to deliver strategic advantage, lead cybersecurity, support military operations, counter cyber-enabled threats and provide trusted advice and expertise. Overall, the theme is capturing and maintaining the Australian public’s trust in the government’s ability to protect against cybersecurity threats.
The Blueprint details specific results the program is working towards:
- Triple current offensive cyber power
- Double persistent cyber hunt activities
- Increase the use of advanced artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud technology
- Quadruple its global footprint
- Add 1,900 new analysts, technologists, corporate personnel and enabling roles across Australia and the world
- Have 40% of staff located outside of Canberra.
“This investment in ASD recognizes the deteriorating strategic circumstances in our region, characterized by rapid military expansion, growing coercive behavior and increased cyberattacks,” added Dutton in the media release. “It acknowledges the nature of conflict has changed, with cyberattacks now commonly preceding other forms of military intervention — most recently demonstrated by offensive cyber activity against Ukraine.”
Where the funding is going
According to ZDNET, the investment will also fund the following cybersecurity-related projects:
- Consumer Data Right measures (AU$38.4 million)
- A fourth cyber hub within the Australian Taxation Office (AU$30.2 million)
- Shaping global critical and emerging technology standards (AU$18.6 million)
- Continuing digitalization of the transport sector (AU$13.6).
“Project REDSPICE is a critical investment in our digital sovereignty. There are growing cyber threats and we are acting to secure our nation,” said Assistant Minister Hastie in the media release. “This will create highly skilled jobs, and will equip the next generation of Australians to defend our critical infrastructure. The Morrison Government’s investment in the ASD will allow our cyber operators to punch back at our adversaries and protect Australia and our interests online.”