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Leveraging external engagement to fight cyber attacks

6 July 2016
Dr Mike Davies during the ACSC Conference.
Dr Mike Davies during the ACSC Conference.

Research leader Dr Mike Davies makes a serious statement when he says "Read any industry cyber security report and it is clear that defenders are losing (or at best playing catch-up) and attackers are winning (or at least calling the shots)."

Given digital technology now underpins almost all aspects of government, commerce, life and business, it is clearly a matter of national security, economic prosperity and societal wellbeing that we turn the tables on this situation.

Securing Australia's cyber sphere is not a job for DST alone; the wider science and technology community has a key role to play and as a result Dr Davies and his team have been building a foundation for stronger engagement.

"Taking into consideration the Defence White Paper's call for greater external engagement for Defence innovation, the game of cyber defence and security is no exception," Dr Davies explains.

"We started from essentially a zero base with respect to engaging academia in this area."

"We now have research linkages with seven universities that have prominent cyber security research programs, which is a huge positive."

Cyber security is also one of the nine national priorities within the National Innovation and Science Agenda but the field is immense and calls for focus.

"There are many areas where all we can do is watch, others that we can shape and foster, and still others where we must engage in collaborative in-depth partnerships if we are to seriously raise the bar against this threat." Dr Davies says.

"The good thing is Australia has the ingredients for sovereign capabilities in some areas."

Many of these capabilities were explored at the recent 2016 national conference of the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), where Dr Davies and his team put together and ran the inaugural research stream.

"We had a great team from DST working on this year's stream," he says.

"I believe we put research firmly on the agenda for future ACSC conferences and boosted the profile of DST both nationally and internationally."

The stream included presentations from Dr Jackie Craig and Dr Marcus Butavicius of DST, with Dr Craig also contributing to the final panel discussion on the topic "How do we foster innovation in cyber security?"