Cyber wrap
7 May 2014|

The big cyber news out of the US this week was the Obama Administration’s release of the results of its three-month review into ‘big data’ and privacy. The report found that while big data can drive social progress, it can also be misappropriated to undermine civil rights and privacy protections. Check out this blog by John Podesta for a digestible breakdown of the review’s findings and recommendations. While reactions to the report have been mixed, it’s heartening to see the Administration continues to make moves to operate more effectively in the digital realm. On that note, a war-gaming exercise focused on cyber security was held in Washington DC last week to simulate the Capitol’s response to a cyber attack, which saw Congress and the White House pass a bare-bones cyber security bill to support industry—not a bad start.

The CeBit conference kicked off in Sydney this week. At the meeting on Monday, CSIRO took the opportunity to release its new report Enabling Australia’s Digital Future: Cyber Security Trends and Implications (PDF). The report observes the increasing digitisation of life in Australia and highlights the risk of being caught ill-equipped to deal with an evolving cyber threat landscape. CSIRO Futures Director, James Deverell, has called for cyber security to be reimagined, not as an IT-only issue but as a responsibility shared between ‘government, research organisations, industry and the public’. Here’s a quick run-down from Deverell over at The Conversation. The CSIRO report ties in nicely with the case being made by Jason Healey over at the Atlantic Council, which this week launched a report that highlights just how destructive future cyber threats will be for our digitally-dependent and interconnected world.

Fairfax media has reported on the ADF’s ‘Information Activities’ doctrine that flags the Internet as a theatre for future military operations. The information, revealed following a Fairfax FOI request, shines a light on the ADF’s cyber operations planning aimed at ‘undermining the adversary’s ability to develop, disseminate and execute sound decisions’. The report also provides a glimpse into offensive cyber capabilities said to have been developed by the Australian Signals Directorate and Defence Science and Technology Organisation, and highlights concerns that the ADF doctrine to ‘influence and deceive adversaries will not also mislead the Australian public and media’.

ICPC staff have been writing about their own cyber conversations, both real and hoped for. Director Toby Feakin wrote last week on ASPI’s recent trip to China to meet with representatives from think tanks, academia and government, providing an insight into discussions on Australia–China cyber relations. Simon Hansen posted a piece on The Drum where he called for a mature Australian discussion on cyber security issues. He has endorsed a ‘two-way public-private dialogue’ on cyber matters, where ‘political vigour—rather than reticence—is needed’ to highlight cyber threats.

Finally, Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull has this week further enunciated his position on the Internet governance debate. In a speech to Chatham House, Turnbull delved into questions that have arisen since the US Government signalled its intention to cede the IANA function to the global multi-stakeholder community. On Internet governance, he said, the US role has been to have ‘done nothing in particular but do it very well’.  The test now is to see if ICANN can be trusted to continue that work and establish itself as the legitimate forum to take on the responsibility. The Minister also spoke on trust and privacy in a cyber space that is both ‘a global village and a Wild West’, as well as his satisfaction with the outcomes of the NETmundial meeting in Brazil. My colleague Klée Aiken and I weren’t so thrilled with the meeting—a point we explored as our Governing the Net blog series wrapped up last week.

David Lang is an intern in ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre.